Brunswick, Ga., resident Lori Parker was sweeping wet leaves from her patio in April 2013 when she picked up a mat and saw a few earthworms underneath.
"The one that intrigued me,” she said, “was the one moving like a snake.”
A longtime gardener used to finding creatures in the dirt, Parker wanted to know what this 4-inch long creature was. After she caught it, she searched the internet for a “worm that moves like a snake.”
Her sharp eye and keen curiosity had turned up only the second Brahminy blind snake documented in coastal Georgia. By May 7, Ms. Parker had collected a second Brahminy.
Her identification is spot-on: It looks like an earthworm, and moves like a snake.
Unlike earthworms, this snake is not segmented and does not contract. As for distinguishing a Brahminy blind snake from other snakes, the species has a fairly blunt tail, its eyes are almost invisible, and its belly scales look the same as the scales on its back.
If you look close, you’ll see the Brahminy stick out its tongue.
Average adult size is between 2.5 and 6.5 inches. Adults are small, thin and shiny, silver gray, charcoal gray or purple. The head and tail-tip are indistinct, the neck is not narrow and the eyes are small dot-like remnants under the scales.
The tail is tipped with a tiny pointed spur. The head scales are small and similar to body scales. The belly is grayish to brown. The scales are smooth and shiny. There are 14 dorsal scale rows along the entire body. Juvenile coloration is similar to that of adults.
The Brahminy Blind Snake burrows in the soil and leaf litter. It can be found under rotting logs, leaves, and trash. Most often it is found in flower beds while people are gardening or on sidewalks after rain.
It is believed that it was introduced in the soil of imported plants. Being moved around this way in some parts of the world has earned it the name Flower Pot Snake.
Brahminy blind snakes are, of course, blind.
They live underground (video) and feed on the eggs, larvae and pupae of ants and termites. They lay eggs or may be live-bearing. All individuals are female and reproduce unisexually, where the eggs begin cell division without sperm from a male. Up to 8 genetically identical female offspring are produced.
You can see one here!
The expanding range is not cause for alarm. Negative impacts on native species have not been seen in the U.S.
The snake’s presence was first reported in Florida in 1983, and has now been found from Key West in the Florida Keys, north throughout most of the peninsula, and west in Leon County in the panhandle. Outside of Florida, it has been widely introduced to many tropical localities.
It’s considered the most widespread snake species in the world.
Georgia DNR Nongame Conservation Section biologist Clay George discovered a Brahminy in the same neighborhood as Lori Parker in 2008. John Jensen, a senior wildlife biologist with the Nongame Conservation Section, said the nonvenomous, non-native snake has been documented in three places in Georgia, including Albany and Wayne County.
And, the Albany homeowner with the blind snakes in his yard recently reported finding six more!
— Compiled from reports of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the Florida Museum of Natural History.
— Photo courtesy John Jensen / Georgia DNR