blind worms; WAS: Moles and other Geophyte predators
Sat, 31 Dec 2005 13:58:00 PST
To use a wiki term, it's time to practice a bit of disambiguation. 

Several unrelated taxa have come under discussion as "blind snakes". 

The ones Gary in Hawaii mentioned are Typhlops braminus, probably
(herpetologists are not unanimous about this) snakes, but hardly typical
snakes. They are are evidently now pantropical due to the facts that they
often live in potted plants and are, as mentioned, parthenogenic.
Incidentally, Ernie, these are not the only parthenogenic reptiles: lizards
of the genus Cnemidophorus have been known to form female-only "species"
and there are others. In the south central states of the United States
there is a very (superficially) similar creature called a blind snake of
the genus Leptotyphlops. Typhlops and Leptotyphlops may not be as closely
related as their superficial similarities might suggest. 

The other reptile known as blind worm is Anguis fragilis, an undoubted
lizard which ranges from England across Europe and into the Mid-East. An
earlier response to this thread included a link to blind worm, Anguis
fragilis. If you have blind worms Anguis fragilis in your garden, consider
yourself very lucky: they are predators of slugs and snails. Here in the
United States we have a similar lizard called glass snake (or in modern
politically correct books, glass lizard). 

Here in Maryland we have a tiny true snake called the worm snake: it's
roughly the color of an earth worm on the upper side and a soft bright pink
on the belly. It's sometimes seen in compost heaps, and I suspect that lots
of people have seen them without realizing that they are snakes. It's known
formally as Carphophis amoenus if you want to Google and learn more. 

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where worm snakes
sometimes stop by and check things out.  


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