Texas Blind Snake

[cincopa AoMAvT6D4WhN]

The Texas blind snake, Leptotyphlops dulcis*, (also called Plains thread snake) can be common in the Texas landscape. These snakes occur on stony hillsides, prairies, and sandy or rocky deserts, under stones, boulders or other objects throughout most of the state.

Occasionally, blind snakes are found under house foundations and in bath traps. However, they are most often encountered in areas where moisture is available and are more prominent after rains. In one instance, many of these snakes were found living in the duct-work used for the heating and cooling system in an attic of a house. They appeared to be using the water source from a basin which collected condensation from the air conditioning evaporator where the drain had become partially plugged with algae (pers. com. D. Griffin, April 1999). Although harmless, they can be considered a nuisance when they occur in the home.

Description

These small, 5 to 8-inch long snakes are not only blind, but they never bite people, even though they are related to the boas. Hatchlings are about 2 3/4 inches long. The largest blind snake reported was 10-3/4 inches long. Their dentation is reduced to a few teeth on the lower jaw. Their small size, the eyes buried beneath translucent scales, the brown to reddish-brown, pink or silvery-tan color of this snake, and their habit of burrowing has lead to the common name “worm snake”. The most difficult aspect of the Texas blind snake is convincing the startled finder that these snakes are not baby snakes which can grow large!

Biology and Habits

The Texas blind snake is considered beneficial because of its feeding habits. It is active on the soil surface at night or early evening, feeding on larvae and pupae of insects, termites, and earthworms. It is rarely observed on the surface during the day unless ground is very wet or flooded. Blind snakes are one of several insectivorous (insect eating) creatures found around Texas homes and landscapes. Others common insectivores include toads, lizards (particularly geckos and anoles) and many species of birds. As a group, these vertebrates are good natural enemies of many insect pests. Blind snakes indicate of a healthy environment and should be preserved and encouraged in the landscape.

Management Considerations

No chemical control measures are recommended for blind snakes. Should these snakes become locally abundant, consider habitat modifications such as eliminating moist breeding sites as a cultural method of control. Disturb or remove logs, rocks and other debris under which these snakes rest. General insect control under and around the foundation of the home should eliminate some of the food supply for these snakes and help reduce their numbers.

Classification of the Texas Blind Snake

*Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Leptotyphopidae

Additional Information

Digimorph at UT Austin

Acknowledgments

The author wishes to thank James Reinert, Dr. Mike Merchant and Dr. Roger Gold for review of this manuscript.

Author

Bastiaan M. Drees, Professor and Extension Entomologist
Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Texas A&M System