Texas blindsnake

Leptotyphlops dulcis

TAXONOMY

Leptotyphlops dulcis (Baird and Girard, 1853), between San Pedro and Camanche [Comanche] Springs, Texas. Five subspecies are recognized.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Texas threadsnake, Texas wormsnake; French: Leptotyphlops du Texas; German: Texas-Schlankblindschlange; Spanish: Serpiente-lombriz texana.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS 2.6-10.7 in (6.6-27 cm) in total length. Tail 5-6% of total length. Midbody diameter 0.06-0.22 in (0.15-0.5 cm). Adult aspect ratio of approximately 50. Pink or reddish brown dorsally, light pink or cream-colored ventrally.

Leptotyphlops dulcis

DISTRIBUTION

Southwestern United States (southern Kansas, central and western Oklahoma, central and western Texas, southern New Mexico, and southeastern Arizona) and northeastern Mexico (northeastern Sonora, northeastern Chihuahua, Coahuila,

Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, northern Veracruz, San Luis Potosi, and northern Zacatecas).

HABITAT

These snakes inhabit deserts, grassy plains, oak and juniper woodlands, and rock-strewn mountain slopes. They are usually found buried in sandy or loamy soil, or beneath stones, logs, or other surface debris, often near some source of water.

BEHAVIOR

Texas blindsnakes are predominantly fossorial. However, they are occasionally encountered above ground at night or after heavy rains. They move somewhat clumsily above ground, using a combination of undulatory, rectilinear, and concertina locomotion. In the case of the latter, the tail spine may be used as an anchor point.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

These snakes feed mainly on ant brood and termites. They swallow ant larvae and pupae whole, but their prey-handling strategies vary when they feed on termites. They always attack termites from behind and sometimes swallow them whole. In some cases, they ingest only the abdomen and thorax and break off the head. In still other instances, the snakes merely chew on the termites, draining their abdominal fluids. Less common prey include ant lions, beetles, caterpillars, cockroaches, earwigs, fly larvae, and spiders. Texas blindsnakes are sometimes observed foraging amidst raiding columns of army ants. Eastern screech owls (Otus asio) often capture these snakes alive and bring them back to their nests, where the snakes feed on parasitic invertebrates amidst the nest debris.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Courtship and mating occur throughout the spring and often involve aggregations of more than a dozen individuals. Ovipo-sition usually occurs in June or July. Clutch size ranges between two and seven eggs, each measuring approximately 0.59 by 0.16 in (1.5 by 0.4 cm). Following oviposition, females coil around their eggs, in some cases in close proximity to other brooding females. Hatchlings, measuring 2.6-3 in (6.6-7.6 cm) in length, emerge in late summer.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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