Blind and Thread Snakes

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1 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 1 Module # 4 Component # 2 Family Typhlopidae They spend their lives underground in termite mounds in search of termites or similar insects. They are occasionally unearthed in the farmlands or when termite mounds are destroyed. Very rarely in times of extreme rains they may come to ground because of flooding or saturated soils. This group of snakes only has teeth to the upper jaw. Extremely shiny in appearance, they are very smooth and covered all round by tiny close fitting scales. The eyes are greatly reduced as they serve very little purpose. Unlike other snakes, they shed in rings. The body is round and the head blunted. It is also fairly difficult to tell which is the head and which is the short tail. Species examined for the Lowveld region include: Bibrons Blind Snake Delalandes Beaked Blind Snake Schlegels Beaked Blind Snake

2 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 2 Bibron's Blind Snake Typhlops bibronii Characteristics: Eye hardly noticeable Tubular body shape Head & Tail similar Very glossy, smooth scales Other Names: Bibron se blineslang Description This species is a typical blind snake. They are fairly well covered in the course region. In colouration they are usually a plain brown with a lighter belly. Adult bicoloured specimens have been recorded in Gauteng and the Northern Province. These specimens have much lighter ventral and side scales. Hatchlings and juveniles are lighter in colouration. Incubation in this species is rapid, only taking 5 or so days. The eggs are laid in the early part of the year. As with the rest of the group they feed on termites, ants, larvae, ant or termite eggs and other invertebrates.

3 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 3 Distribution: They occur on the Highveld, savanna and coastal grasslands. Distribution of Bibron's Blind Snake Note on our Distribution Maps: The general map is of Southern Africa The green shaded area is the Highveld and Lowveld of South Africa The red lined area depicts the distribution of the species

4 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 4 Delalande's Beaked Blind Snake Rhinotyphlops lalandei Characteristics: Head and tail similar in shape Extremely glossy and smooth scaled Eye is very small Very round tubular body shape Other Names: Delalande se haakneusblindeslang Description: This species covers the majority of the course area. It is a fairly small species only reaching around 350mm. The scale's edges are pale and the body is a pink to grey brown colour. Reproduction: Females only lay a couple of eggs per annum. Hatchlings are flesh to pink in colour.

5 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 5 Distribution: They cope in a wide variety of habitats over their range which are Savanna, bushveld, coastal bush and even into the Fynbos of the Cape. Distribution of Delalande's Beaked Blind Snake

6 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 6 Schlegel's Beaked Blind Snake Rhinotyphlops schlegelii Characteristics: Tubular body shape Head and tail very similar Brownish often with darker brown mottling Very shiny smooth scales Other Names: Schlegel se haakneusblindeslang Description: This species is mainly located in the north to north western parts of the guide regions. Colouration of this species is varied, as there are blotched, plain & striped phases. They are normally plain brown to black with a lighter under belly, but may be blotched black. The striped phase specimens have a thin black line to each scale that widens with age, and may merge with adjacent lines. Reproduction This is the largest species in the family and females may lay anything between eggs. Incubation for this species is incredibly short and young usually hatch in 5 weeks or so.

7 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 7 Distribution: Their habitat is also varied and they occur from the coastal plains to semi-desert. Distribution of Schlegel's Beaked Blind Snake

8 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 8 Thread Snakes Family Leptotyphlops This species is very similar to the Blind snake. They however only have teeth to the lower jaw and are generally thinner. The shedding process is the same as Blind Snakes shedding in rings. They have very small, smooth scales that are very close together. The heads are rounded and the tails very short, and distinguishing the two ends requires close inspection. The eyes are situated beneath the scales and are blind. They spend their entire lives underground unless pushed to the surface by flooding. They prey primarily on termites and ants. Skin colour is varied, as the colour is dependant on moisture levels, going from pink to black. Predators include birds and even spiders or scorpions. They release a chemical from their bodies to protect them from attack by the soldier ant and termites. There are 6 species examined in this course Distant's Thread Snake Eastern Thread Snake Incognito Thread Snake Jacobsens Worm Snake Long Tailed Thread Snake Peter's Thread Snake

9 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 9 Distant's Thread Snake Leptotyphlops distanti Characteristics: Very Small eye Smooth glossy scaled Thin tubular body shape Other Names: Distant's Worm Snake, Distant se erdslangetjie, Distant se draadslangetjie Reproduction Oviparous Presumed based on other species. Description: It is usually dark grey dorsally and light grey on the ventral scales. The scales are usually pale edged.

10 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 10 Distribution: Their distribution is fairly restricted to savanna and coastal bush. Distribution of Distant's Thread Snake

11 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 11 Eastern Cape Thread Snake Leptotyphlops scutifrons conjunctus Reproduction: Oviparous Description: This is the species is smaller than the Peter's Thread Snake, only reaching around 19cm. Colouration is between red-brown to black, but occasionally has whites patches to the ventral scales. Distribution: With the wide distribution the habitat is varied between coastal plain, savanna, bushveld, thornveld and even into arid savanna. Distribution of Eastern Cape Thread Snake

12 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 12 Incognito Thread Snake Leptotyphlops incognitus Characteristics: Smooth glossy scales Very small eye Thin tubular body shape Other Names: Incognito Worm Snake, Incognito-erdslangetjie, Incognitodraadslangetjie Reproduction: Oviparous Description: They are brown to black in colour and easily misidentified with other Thread Snakes such as the Jacobsen's Thread Snake. The belly scales are also black in colour. This species was classified as a sub-species of the Cape Thread Snake, now elevated to it's own species.

13 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 13 Distribution: Distribution of Incognito Thread Snake

14 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 14 Jacobsen's Thread Snake Leptotyphlops jacobseni Characteristics: Thin tubular body shape Very smooth glossy scaled Minute eye Other Names: Jacobsen's Worm Snake, Jacobsen se erdslangetjie, Jacobsen se draadslangetjie Reproduction Unknown, presumed oviparous Description: They may communally hibernate near to the surface under compost or other debris. They are black in colour, but pale edged scales have been observed. They have a blunted snout and very short tail.

15 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 15 Distribution: There is an isolated pocket in Mpumalanga where this species occurs. They are found in varying habitats including savanna & bushveld. Distribution of Jacobsen's Thread Snake

16 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 16 Long-tailed Thread Snake Leptotyphlops longicaudus Characteristics: Thin tubular body Glossy smooth scales Very small eye Other Names: Long-tailed Worm Snake, Langsterterdslangetjie, Langsterdraadslangetjie Reproduction: Oviparous Females lay up to 2 eggs in summer near to the surface. Description: The belly is pink and the upper body is dark grey to black with a pink hue. They are small thin snakes with a blunt nose and short tail

17 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 17 Distribution: Distribution of Long-tailed Thread Snake

18 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 18 Peter's Thread Snake Leptotyphlops scutifrons scutifrons Characteristics: Small / thin tubular body shape Glossy smooth scales Very Small eye Tail ends in a small spike Other Names: Peter's Worm Snake, Peter se erdslangetjie, Peter se draadslangetjie Reproduction: Oviparous - Lays 2-7 eggs in mid-summer which often are joined in a similar way to sausages. Description: This is the largest of the thread snakes occurring in the course area. They can obtain a length of around 260mm. Colouration is between red-brown to black.

19 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 19 Distribution: With the wide distribution the habitat is varied between coastal plain, savanna, bushveld, thornveld and even into arid savanna. Distribution of Peter's Thread Snake

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