Thursday, June 18, 2009

Blind snake's bluff

One of the areas we travelled through in Venezuela was the Gran Sabanna. Whilst this is a spectacularly scenic area, our hiking guide was quick to tell us that there was not much in the way of wildlife to see. He was mostly right although there were a few things that caught our interest. I was particularly surprised they saw few snakes in a region that appeared to have a lot of perfect habitat but he confirmed this was the case. Notwithstanding this we both kept our eye out and I spent a lot of the hiking time searching, as diligently as I felt able to in an area with hots like neotropical rattlesnake, for reptiles. My hard work was rewarded on the final morning when I finally was able to shout "SNAKE!!!!!" although I don't think our guide was too impressed with what I found. Lets say it was on the opposite end of the scale to the anaconda

thread snake

I believe this is Leptotyphlops affinis, the Venezuela blind snake but whatever it is, it is dead unfortunately. I'm kicking myself for not including a scale item but it was tiny. It may give you some idea of scale when I tell you it was being carried by ants when I found it. The ant thing surprised me as their primary diet is ant and termite larvae. I think this one may have got caught by soldier ants as it emerged from the ground due to earlier rains. Blind snakes are generally burrowing snakes but you can often find them by flipping rocks and wood (basically the types of items you'd expect to find ants' nests under. We actually have an endemic species of Typhlops blind snake on the island but I've yet to come across it so this will have to do for now. If you want yet more info on these, Darren has an excellent piece on them here.

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