Rhinotyphlops schlegelii TAXONOMY
Rhinotyphlops schlegelii Bianconi, 1847, Inhambane, Mozambique. Four subspecies are recognized (although some or all of these may represent distinct species).
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: Schlegel's beaked snake, giant blindsnake; French: Ty-phlops de Schlegel; German: Afrikanische Blindschlange.
This species ranges between 4.5-37.4 in (11.5-95.0 cm) in total length and between 0.14-1.1 in (3.5-28.1 mm) in midbody diameter. The tail is short, usually 1-2% of total length. Aspect ratios range from less than 20 to more than 50, but average approximately 30. Females grow longer and heavier than males, but have slightly shorter tails. The large rostral scale is strongly angled and heavily keratinized, forming a prominent snout with a sharp, horizontally oriented cutting edge. The eyes are relatively distinct, usually lying beneath the suture between the preocular and ocular scales. There are 30-44 longitudinal scale rows at midbody and 307-624 scales along the dorsal midline. Dorsal color and pattern are highly variable (especially in R. s. mucruso). Blotched, speckled, lineolate, and unicolor morphs are known, exhibiting a relatively wide array of colors (e.g., brown, black, gray, blue, yellow, white). The belly is generally unpatterned and is usually some shade of yellow or white.
Schlegel's blindsnake ranges widely throughout sub-Saharan Africa (Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Republic of South Africa, Swaziland).
This blindsnake inhabits mainly wooded savannas. It is usually found amid soil or underneath stones, logs, and other surface debris.
Schlegel's blindsnake is fossorial. Smaller individuals are frequently seen above ground after heavy rains. Large adults are encountered less frequently, suggesting that they may dig deeper underground than juveniles.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
This blindsnake feeds mainly on the larvae and pupae of ants, although termites are also frequently eaten.
Mating and oviposition apparently occur most frequently in late spring and early summer, respectively. However, this species may breed throughout the year in at least some areas of its range. Clutch size ranges from fewer than 10 to more than 50 eggs, each of which may be as large as 0.47 X 0.83 in (12 X 21 mm). The eggs hatch after a relatively short incubation period of four to six weeks.
CONSERVATION STATUS Not listed by the IUCN.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦
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