I was in my garden today pulling some weeds and puttering around when I lifted a spare bag of mulch and found a worm-like critter underneath the bag, just on top of the soil.
At first glance I thought it was another worm (my yard is blessed with many since I am not a proponent of poisoning the ground with “‘icides”). But, it was much darker than an earthworm and moved more like a snake.
This critter is indeed a snake – a Brahminy Blind Snake -- scientific name Ramphotyphlops braminus. The Brahminy Blind Snake is NON-Poisonous and not likely to bite if handled, so please do not freak-out if you find one while working in your garden. They are sort of cute and totally harmless. The Brahminy Blind Snake burrows in moist soil and leaf litter and is found under rotting logs, leaves, and trash. Most often it is seen in flower beds while gardening or on sidewalks after rain.
Ramphotyphlops braminus is frequently mistaken for an earthworm since both are shiny, but if you look carefully you will see that an earthworm is segmented (having rings around the body) but the Brahminy Blind Snake is not segmented. If you look closely at the Brahminy, you can see its snake scales. Also, the Brahminy Blind Snake cannot stretch itself out or contract like an earthworm does.
The head of the Brahminy is the same size as its body without a noticeable neck. Its small, dot-like eyes are covered by translucent scales so it looks like she has no eyes, thus the “Blind” appellation. Virtually blind this snake can, however, distinguish between light and dark. At the other end of this snake there is a tiny spur at the tip of its tail. The scales of this snake are smooth and shiny. This is certainly the smallest snake in Florida and it is one of the smallest snakes in the world. In fact, it is claimed to be “The smallest snake in the world”.
The Brahminy Blind Snake is an exotic species from Southeast Asia that was introduced into Florida (first discovered here in 1979), most likely through the international trade in plants. It is sometimes known as the "Flower Pot Snake." It is found from the Florida Keys and the Southeastern peninsula north to Lake Okeechobee and in isolated populations near Fort Myers, in Pinellas County and Gainesville. Outside of Florida, it has been widely introduced in many locations in the United States of America such as Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts and Ohio.
Quick Facts regarding the Brahminy Blind Snake:
Adult body length: 4 - 6½ inches
Body length at hatching: 2 inches
Sexes: females only, no males
Development: egg cells begin division without male sperm
Young per year: 2 - 8 eggs; the females may bear live baby snakes which are all genetically identical.
Typical foods: termites, other soft-bodied insects, insect larvae