Brahminy Worm Snake ( Indotyphlops braminus Daudin, 1803 )

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Name
Scientific Name: 
Indotyphlops braminus (Daudin, 1803)
Regional Names: 
English: 
Brahminy Blind Snake, Flowerpot Snake
Kannada: 
ಬ್ರಾಹ್ಮಣಿ ಹುಳು ಹಾವು
Marathi: 
Vala
Hindi: 
keet saanp
Gujarati: 
Andha saanp
Bengali: 
poiyen
Photographs: 
Distribution: 
Found in whole of Indian mainland up to 1515 meter and its majority of islands showing frequent transportation of herb goods. In Andaman & Nicobar Islands its distribution is- Andaman: North Andaman, South Andaman; Nicobar: Car Nicobar, Chowra, Great Nicobar, Katchall, Tarasa. Recorded from following countries till date: Afghanistan, American Samoa, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Borneo, British West Indies, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canaries, Central African Republic, China, Congo, El Salvador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Gabon, Guatemala, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Laos, Lesser Antilles, Libya, Macau, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Marianas, Marshalls, Mauritania, Mexico, Midway, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nauru, Netherlands Antilles, Nepal, New Caledonia, New Guinea, New Zealand, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Philippines, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Singapore, Sénégal, Solomons, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, United Arab Emirates (including Dubai), United States of America, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Yemen.
Family: 
Characteristics for identification: 

Morphologically this species can be identified easily in most of the parts of range (for most of the parts its the only species of blind Snake) by checking glossy and cylindrical body of brown to black color, rounded snout which bears four vertical sutures, very short tail with a single spine.

Indotyphlops braminus is distinguished from all other members of the Typhlopidae by the combination of: 1) the inferior nasal suture in contact with the preocular shield 2) the superior nasal suture extending to the dorsal of snout to contact the rostral and 3) greater than 270 middorsal scales. Alternatively, it is separable from all Serpentes in being a unisexual, obligate parthenogen and having point contact of the ventral scales, each of which has a black spot anteriorly.

Description: 

Length: Smallest known length- 3.5mm. Sexually matured minimum known size- 95mm. Average length- 120 mm (12cm.). Maximum length- Approximately 200 mm (20cm.). Weight: The lightest and heaviest recorded specimens of Ramphotyphlops braminus are from Thailand, 0.05 gm and 1.87 gm respectively. In a study mean body weight for 355 live or freshly killed specimens was 0.23 gm for juveniles while 0.74 gm for adults.

Body thin (not thicker than a gel pen refill in general comparison), small, cylindrical and covered with very small and subequal scales. Head short, very slightly or not broader than neck, very slightly depressed but can be best observed from lateral view; snout rounded. Eyes very small and in the form of black dot on slightly lower side of the top of head. Tongue color white, with a pair of lateral papillae near base of bifurcation. In light and moderately dark specimens each scale is marked with triangular apical spot on front which occupies ¼-1/2th part of respective scale. Color ranges from uniform glossy black, wide range of brown color, reddish-brown etc. on upper side which usually become more or less faint underside; new born individuals always have jet black or glossy black color including snout and other parts. In dark specimens this difference of underside lighter than upper may not be noticed. In deserts, semi-deserts of its range color is much lighter (pinkish) while in regions having low temperature range or during winters it shows majority of dark coloration. Snout color lighter with whitish sutures, in dark individuals head sutures produce contrast and can be clearly seen. Lower of snout, chin, cloacal region, tip of tail (which ends with a spine) usually much lighter and often of white color.

Scalation
Head: 
Rostral 0.25–0.33 of interocular head width, does not reach to level of eyes, anterior constriction visible from top; supraocular oblique, twice as long as broad. Larger than frontal, postfrontal and interparietal, occasionally transversely short; parietals transverse, enlarged and occipitals occasionally enlarged. Nostrils circular with a nearly horizontal and transverse nasal canal; nasal completely divided, posterior border strongly concave, inferior nasal suture contacts preocular and superior nasal suture extends to dorsal of snout to contact rostral at point of constriction on it; preocular and ocular subequal in size; eye small, usually with distinct pupil, located near or partially under the lateral border of supraocular; a single postocular, twice the height of dorsal scales; supralabial imbrications pattern T–III, fourth supralabial larger than other three supralabials combined and subequal to ocular, with a posterior notch suggests the fusion of another scale with the supralabial. Anterior head shields usually bear distinct rows of whitish glands beneath their posterior borders, with the prenasal gland line confluent with the posterior rostral gland line dorsally to the exclusion of the anterior rostral gland line. Tongue with a pair of lateral papillae near base of bifurcation.
Dorsal: 
Body scales imbricate and often cycloid at least in dorsal region; appear more trapezoidal in shape with nearly point contact in underside region. Tail slightly longer than broad; apical spine with stout base, directed horizontally. Body scales in invariable 20 rows, i.e. scale row reduction absent. Scale rows different than 20 are incorrectly mentioned for this species. 261–368 transverse scale rows at mid body. Majority of individuals bear row of 290–350. Middorsal width/interocular head width= 0.22-0.36. Total length/Midbody diameter= 30-60. Tail length/Total length= 1.5-3.5. Tail length/mid tail diameter= 0.7-2.0.
Ventral: 
Ventral scales are indistinct from other body scales.
Sub Caudal: 
Subcaudal 8-15.
Habitat: 
Brahminy Worm Snake is usually a species of low to moderate elevations in majority of parts of its range. In India it has been recorded from 0–1515 meter while its highest known limit is Papua New Guinea (2600 meter). It is distributed in almost all kind of forests and lands except North & South poles and found in dry decidious, moist decidious, mixed decidious, rainforest, grassland, deserts, semi-desets, evergreen thorny forests, mangroves, coastal forest, variety of forests of Islands, wetlands, swamps, rocky terrain etc. Can be found in may more forests and geographical region in future with increase in transportation of carrying goods like plants, flowerpots, soil etc. Micro habitat is any kind of land having loose and slightly moist soil, narrow cracks, low vegetation having loose roots or any kind of object which can help it to hide under it with appropiriate temperature in opposite weather. Due to its small size and different mode of reproduction it can survive well in most of the habitat of variety of elevation and climatic conditions.
Natural History: 
Brahminy Worm Snake becomes abundant in sighting during monsoon months with variety of size including new born and fully grown adults. During winter all population burrows deep inside the soil and roots of vegetation to spend whole season in hibernation or with extremely low activity. Same during summer, it barely comes on ground due to high temperature of surface and prefers to stay underground which is much cooler. It is a nocturnal species which can be seen during low light of daytime and evening. Locomotion typically serpentine and use tail spine to anchor on rough surface to contract its body back if needed. Behavior restless, terrestrial while doing locomotion and strongly burrowing for greater part of its life. Almost always non-offensive and cannot harm large bodied enemy (like mammals, rodents, birds etc.) except poking their spiny tail on body to distract their attention or make surprize for a while. no aggressive display is known for this and probably all other Worm/Blind Snakes. It is an all-female triploid species having no evidence of male individuals till now. It reproduces parthenogenetically without fertilization by sperm and thus can build up a population from just one individual. No other type of reproduction is known about this species. Female lays 2-7 eggs of long boiled rice shape during summer in insect holes, loose soil having proper areation, under undisturbed leaf litter, under rocks etc. New born individuals (35mm approx) become abundant during monsoon after rains.
Diet: 
Feeds on eggs and larvae of almost all kind of insects if they are ingestable for it. In a single feeding attempt it consumes multiple number of eggs and larvae because one or two cannot fulfil its nutrition needs.
Threats: 
No threats are known which can affect its population status and diversity. However people often kill it by assuming it to be "Cobra baby" in Central-northern India but even this action doesn't adds a significant cause to call it threat.
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