Physical characteristics

A wide range of fang types and associated glands is found in these unusual burrowing snakes. They all have similar skulls, vertebrae, and hemipenes. They are usually back-fanged, but one genus has long, hollow fangs that can rotate forward and inject venom. The small head is not distinct from the neck, and the snout is usually bluntly rounded (but very pointed in quill-snouted snakes, Xenocalamus). To aid in burrowing, the head shields often fuse and are thus reduced in number. The body is cylindrical and sometimes very long and thin. Many of these snakes are uniform black or brown, often with a light or dark collar. A few species are brightly striped, but blotched patterns are rare.

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