Flowerpot snake

Flowerpot snake

Ramphotyphlops braminus

Common name:

Flowerpot snake

Scientific name:

Ramphotyphlops braminus

Alternative common names:


The flowerpot snake is one of the world’s smallest snakes, rarely exceeding 20cm in length. Adults are small and thin, on average about6 -16cm in length. The head and tail tip look much the same, with no narrowing of the neck. It feeds on small invertebrates, mainly ant larvae and pupae. The species is the only known parthenogenetic snake, i.e. all specimens are female and reproduction is asexual.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?

Africa and Southeast Asia.

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

NEMBA Category 1b.

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

Cape Town and Limpopo.

How does it spread?

Incidental introduction to various parts through the plant trade.

Why is it a problem?

This species causes no known threats.

What does it look like?

Description: Adults are small and thin. The head and tail tip look much the same, with no narrowing of the neck. The eyes appear only as a pair of small dots under the head scales. The tip of the tail ends with a tiny pointed spur. The head scales are small and resemble those on the body. There are 20 rows of dorsal scales along the entire body. The colouration of the adults varies from shiny silver grey to charcoal grey or purple. Juveniles are coloured much the same as the adults.

Habitat: It burrows in soft soil and is found in a wide variety of environments, from urban gardens and agricultural fields to secondary forests. It lives underground in ant and terminate nests.

Breeding: With a population comprised entirely of females, the flowerpot snake is one of only a few snake species known to reproduce through parthenogenesis. This curious reproductive mode involves the female laying small clutches of thin-shelled, peanut-sized eggs without needing to mate. The unfertilised eggs then hatch into tiny snakes around 53mm in length, all of which are female.

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