Blind Snake, Anilios nigrescens Click to enlarge image
Blind Snake, Anilios nigrescens Newcastle Image: Stephen Mahony
© Stephen Mahony

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    nigrescens
    Genus
    Anilios
    Family
    Typhlopidae
    Suborder
    Serpentes
    Infraorder
    Scolecophidia
    Order
    Squamata
    Class
    Reptilia
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Number of Species
    46
  • Size Range
    Upto 75 centimetres

There are 46 species of blind snakes belonging to the genus Anilios (previously Ramphotyphlops) in Australia. The most commonly encountered species in the eastern states is Anilios nigrescens.

Blind snakes are often mistaken for earthworms. They are small worm-like burrowing snake, pink or grey in colour and have a forked tongue and smooth scales around their bodies (no broad belly scales) that allow them to travel through soil.

Their eyes are reduced to small dark spots under the scales of the head and their mouth is well behind and below the tip of the snout; the body is uniform in thickness along its length with a very short tail ending in a conical spine.


Blind Snake, Anilios nigrescens
Blind Snake Image: Stephen Mahony
© Australian Museum

Blind Snakes live in south-eastern Australia. They are found wherever ants and termites (their main food supply) are plentiful. They also eat the eggs and larvae of ants and termites.

To find their food Blind Snakes flick their tongue to taste and smell the trail of ants and termites. They follow the ants' trails to the nest. They rake ants and termites into their mouth with their top jaw and swallow their food whole.
Owls, feral cats, foxes and some snakes, especially the Bandy Bandy, eat Blind Snakes.

Blind Snakes move in a side-to-side swimming motion when above the ground. Below the ground they use tunnels made by insects.

Blind Snakes lay one to twenty round eggs each breeding season with the young looking after themselves.

These snakes are non-venomous and harmless. They cannot bite and have limited defensive capabilities. They are able to produce a pungent odour from the anal glands, vomit up their last meal or prod with the tail spine to produce an unpleasant prickling sensation.