Bibron’s blind snake

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Bibron’s blind snake
Typhlops bibronii

SMITH 1846

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Higher Taxa Typhlopidae (Afrotyphlopinae), Typhlopoidea, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common Names Bibron’s Blind Snake
Synonym Onychocephalus Bibronii SMITH 1846: 51
Typhlops bibronii – BOULENGER 1887: 174
Typhlops bibronii — BOULENGER 1893: 44
Typhlops bibronii — AUERBACH 1987: 144
Typhlops bibronii — MCDIARMID, CAMPBELL & TOURÉ 1999: 92
Typhlops bibronii — MATTISON 2007: 156
Afrotyphlops bibronii — BROADLEY & WALLACH 2009
Afrotyphlops bibronii — HEDGES et al. 2014
Distribution Republic of South Africa (Eastern Cape), Swaziland, Botswana, Zimbabwe
Type locality: “north of Latakoo (= Kuruman), South Africa.”
Reproduction oviparous
Types Syntypes: BMNH 1946.1.11.22
Description in BROADLEY & WALLACH 2009.
Etymology Named after Gabriel Bibron (1806-1848), French zoologist.
Typhlops bibronii, commonly known as Bibron’s blind snake, is a species of snake in the Typhlopidae family. It is endemic to southern Africa.
It is found in Botswana, Republic of South Africa, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe.
This heavy-bodied species of blind snake is dark olive-brown to brown dorsally, and is paler ventrally. Adults are darker than juveniles. Adults may attain a snout-vent length (SVL) of 29.5 cm (11 5⁄8 in). Its scales are arranged in 30 rows around the body, and there are more than 300 scales in the middorsal row.
Snout very prominent, with an angular but not sharp edge, below which are located the nostrils. Rostral very large, extending posteriorly as far as the eyes. Portion of the rostral visible from above broader than long. Nasals semidivided, the suture proceeding from the first upper labial. Preocular present, narrower than the nasal or the ocular, in contact with the second upper labial. Four upper labials. Eyes distinct, below the suture between the ocular and the preocular. Prefrontal much larger than the supraoculars and the parietals, which are larger than the body scales. Diameter of body 28 to 36 times in the total length. Tail short, as broad as long, or broader than long, ending in a spine.
Typhlops bibronii prefers coastal grasslands and the Highveld.
Bibron’s blind snakes are fossorial, and will burrow into brood chambers of termites and ants. They are protected from the bites of soldier ants by their close-fitting, shiny scales
They feed on larvae and eggs of termites and ants.
Mature females lay eggs from January through March, which is late Summer in southern Africa. Clutch size varies from 5 to 14. Each egg measures about 43 x 10 mm (1⅝ x ⅜ inches). The embryos within the eggs are well-developed, and the shell walls are thin. The female may remain with the eggs, guarding them until hatching. After only 5–6 days, the newborns emerge, with an average total length (including tail) of 11.5 cm (4 1⁄2 in).

References Auerbach,R.D. 1987. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Botswana. Mokwepa Consultants, Botswana, 295 pp.
Boulenger, G.A. 1887. Synopsis of the snakes of South Africa. The Zoologist, London, (3) 11: 171-182
Branch, W. R. 1997. Typhlops bibronii Bibron’s Blind Snake, Size. African Herp News (26): 28
Branch, William R. 1993. A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Southern Africa. Cape Town: Struik Publishers, 144 S.
Broadley, Donald G. & Wallach, V. 2009. A review of the eastern and southern African blind-snakes (Serpentes: Typhlopidae), excluding Letheobia Cope, with the description of two new genera and a new species. Zootaxa 2255: 1-100
Fitzsimons, V. 1966. A check-list, with syntopic keys, to the snakes of southern Africa. Annals of the Transvaal Museum 25 (3): 35-79
Hedges SB, Marion AB, Lipp KM, Marin J, Vidal N. 2014. A taxonomic framework for typhlopid snakes from the Caribbean and other regions (Reptilia, Squamata). Caribbean Herpetology 49: 1–61
Kirchhof, S., M. Krämer, J. Linden & K. Richter 2010. The reptile species assemblage of the Soutpansberg (Limpopo Province, South Africa) and its characteristics. Salamandra 46 (3): 147-166
Marais, J. 2004. A Complete Guide to the Snakes of Southern Africa, 2nd ed. Struik Publishers, 312 pp.
Mattison, Chris 2007. The New Encyclopedia of Snakes. Princeton University Press
McDiarmid, R.W.; Campbell, J.A. & Touré,T.A. 1999. Snake species of the world. Vol. 1. Herpetologists’ League, 511 pp.
Smith,A. 1846. Illustrations of the zoology of South Africa, Reptilia. Smith, Elder, and Co., London
Venter, Jan A.; Werner Conradie 2015. A checklist of the reptiles and amphibians found in protected areas along the South African Wild Coast, with notes on conservation implications Koedoe 57 (1): 1-25. doi: 10.4102/koedoe.v57i1.1247

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2 thoughts on “Bibron’s blind snake”

    1. While I don’t have personal experience with Bibron’s blind snakes, in general blind snakes are small and feed on ants eggs and larvae etc. As such their mouth is too small to bite a person. Blind snakes usually void their bowels, and it’s very foul smelling, as a defense.

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