Snakes are cool. Even tiny snakes with little sight are super cool. Today’s animal, the Brahminy blind snake, is especially cool, and soon you’ll see why.

The Brahminy blind snake is native to Africa and Asia, though it has been introduced to places all over the world. It is one of the most widespread terrestrial snakes in the world, thank to its lovely habit of burrowing into the roots of potted plants. Because of this, Brahminy blind snake is also known as the flowerpot snake. They live underground, which is the reason they are mostly blind – there’s not much use for eyes when your life is spent in darkness.

A close up of a Brahminy blind snake. Notice the translucent scales over the eyes.  Source: http://www.wildsingapore.per.sg/fauna/facts/snake_blind.htm
A close up of a Brahminy blind snake. Notice the translucent scales over the eyes.
Source: http://www.wildsingapore.per.sg/fauna/facts/snake_blind.htm

The Brahminy snake is quite small, only growing to 18 cm. It looks a lot like an earthworm, but lack the segments that worms have. They range from grey to black to purple. The eyes of the snake are just two tiny dots, and have very poor sight. They can only see light-dark, and have no capability of producing images.

Remember in Jurassic park when “life finds a way”? Jeff Goldblum is saying that even if the dinosaurs they’ve cloned are all female, there’s a possibility they could still reproduce. And he’s right, it is possible. There’s a type reproduction called parthenogenesis which involves an unfertilized egg developing into a fully viable offspring. This trait is very rare in vertebrates, with some species being able to exhibit parthenogenesis only in extreme circumstances. Some species, however, exhibit obligate parthenogenesis. The Brahminy blind snake is one of these. No males of the species have ever been discovered. The females lay unfertilized eggs which then develop into clones of herself. That’s why the snake is so widespread – a single adult can spawn a whole population of snakes.

So you see, size isn’t everything. Sometimes the smallest and most inconspicuous animals have amazing things about the. After all, who would have thought that a little snake from Asia would be one of the only unisex snake species? I certainly wouldn’t have!

Cover image credit: Will Flaxington

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