I’ve always found snakes to be one of the most interesting types of animals on the planet. Have you ever wondered just how many different types of snakes there are? Well that’s exactly what we’re going to be answering in this article. But first, what exactly is a snake?
Put simply, snakes are long and limbless reptiles covered in scales belonging to the order Squamata and suborder Serpentes.
Suborder: Serpentes (snakes)
Some snakes are venomous, some grow to amazing sizes, while others are totally harmless and go unnoticed. Snakes are carnivorous predators that may feed on anything ranging from insects to deer, depending on the species. They will also typically avoid contact with humans.
Snakes are often very different from one another in some interesting ways. Keep reading until the end so we can show you each of the 24 snake families, and give some examples for each one.
How many types of snakes are there?
There are 24 types of snakes and an estimated 3900 species of snakes on earth, but the average person hasn’t heard of the majority of these serpents. The different families of snakes that most people have heard of are ones like pythons, boas, pit vipers, and typical snakes which make up a majority of other common snakes.
As we saw above, every snake falls under the suborder Serpentes. What we didn’t learn is that all snakes also belong to one of 2 infraorders, which is the next level down from suborder. The first and largest infraorder is Alethinophidia, followed by the much smaller Scolecophidia.
First we’ll look at the 19 types of snakes in the infraorder Alethinophidia, then we’ll take a look at the 5 types of blind snakes found in the infraorder Scolecophidia. That’s a total of 24 types of snakes!
Types of snakes in Infraorder Alethinophidia
1. Typical snakes
The family Colubridae is the largest and most diverse group of snakes. Snakes within this family are called colubrids, and they can be found on every continent except for Antarctica. While all snakes are legless, some snakes still have remnants of a pelvic girdle. Colubrids, on the other hand, lack any sort of pelvic girdle or signs of limbs.
In general, snakes in this family have fangs located at the back of their mouths, also referred to as being rear-fanged. Most colubrids are non venomous, but some have venom that can cause symptoms from as mild as minor irritation to death in more serious cases. However envenomations by colubrids are rare due to the placement of their fangs.
Examples of typical snakes – Colubridae
1. Garter snake (Thamnophis spp.)
Most people have colubrids living in their own backyards at any given moment. There are many species of Garter snakes that live in North America and are common visitors in people’s yards and gardens. Garter snakes are harmless to people but do possess venom that is harmful to their prey (small mammals and amphibians).
2. Kingsnakes (Lampropeltis spp.)
Kingsnakes get their common name for their preferred diet- which is other snakes, making them “King” of the other snakes in the places they are found. Kingsnakes can be found as far north as Southeastern Canada and as far south as Ecuador, and there are many types of kingsnakes in the United States. They are nonvenomous, but some species can look very similar to species of very venomous Coral Snakes.
3. Hognose snakes (Heterodon spp., Leioheterodon spp., Lystrophis spp.)
There are three different genera of Hognose snakes, with species occurring in North and South America and Madagascar. In North America, Hognose snakes are well known for their death-feigning display where they will dramatically roll over onto their back and gape their mouth open. They are equipped with smooth but very sharp rear fangs.
4. Ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus)
Ring-necked snakes are small, harmless colubrids found throughout much of North America. They are very secretive and can be hard to find, but are otherwise fairly common. They have an orange, yellow or red ring around their neck in addition to brightly colored scales on their underside.
Elapids are a family of venomous snakes that are characterized by their fixed fangs at the front of their mouth. Most snakes that fall into this family are equipped with very toxic venom that specifically targets the nervous system. Bites from these snakes can often be deadly if not treated quickly.
Most elapids are found in Australia, Asia or Africa however there are a handful of species found in both North and South America. These snakes inhabit terrestrial, arboreal and even marine environments.
Many species have a recognizable threat display where they will rear up, flatten their bodies, and display their flattened scales or hoods. Perhaps the most notable or recognizable elapid is the King cobra.
Examples of elapids – Elapidae
5. Mambas (Dendroapis spp.)
There are four different species of Mambas, all of which are known for their ability to move very quickly with ease. Mambas have incredibly potent venom that attacks the nervous system. In fact, the mortality rate for untreated Black Mamba bites is 100%. Mambas are found throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.
6. Sea snakes (Subfamily Hydrophiinae)
Sea snakes, as the name suggests, spend much if not all of their life in marine environments. Some species are able to move on land better than others, but all have a specialized tail that is flattened like a fin to help propel them through the water. Most species are known to be very docile, but others have been known to act aggressively towards divers.
7. Coral snakes (5 different genera: Calliophis, Hemibungarus, Sinomicrurus, Micruroides, Micrurus)
While most elapids are only found in the Eastern Hemisphere, otherwise known as the “Old World”, Coral snakes are found in North America in many different states like Texas and Arizona. They’re also found in South America in addition to Asia and Australia. Coral snakes are actually the only type of elapid found in the United States. They have very toxic venom, however they live very secretive and cryptic lives and therefore encounters with them are rare.
8. Cobras (Naja spp., Ophiophagus hannah)
Cobras are arguably the most well-known of the elapids, known for displaying an impressive hood and rearing up when feeling threatened. King cobras are not actually considered “true cobras”, but are similar in their ecology and biology.
Vipers are an incredibly interesting group of snakes, with each species different from the next. The distinguishing characteristic of vipers is the presence of very long, sharp fangs that they use to deliver venom. These specialized teeth are able to penetrate deep into the skin or tissue of their victim.
Some species of vipers fall into a group called the “pit vipers”, which have a specialized sensory system that is essentially like thermal vision. Pit vipers have thermal sensing organs called pits on their snout that have thin membranes that are able to detect minute temperature changes in their environment. This allows them to expertly locate and hunt their prey.
Examples of type vipers – Viperidae
9. Rattlesnakes (Subfamily Crotalinae)
Rattlesnakes are a well known group of Pit vipers found in both North and South America. They get their name from the rattle on their tail which they shake to deter predators or other threats. These rattles are actually loosely aligned scales (made out of keratin) that they shake quickly, giving off a distinct rattling sound.
Here’s 22 facts about rattlesnakes!
10. Copperheads (Agkistrodon spp.)
Many people that have visited or lived in the Southern United states are familiar with Copperheads, sometimes also referred to as Cottonmouths. These pit vipers are highly associated with aquatic environments and are often seen swimming on the surface of fresh water bodies.
11. Saw scaled vipers (Echis spp.)
Saw scaled vipers are named for their keeled and serrated scales. Like Rattlesnakes, they are also able to make a rattling or sizzling sound, however they do not have a rattle structure. Instead, they rub their scales together which creates a distinct sizzling sound. These vipers are found in desert climates throughout Africa, the Middle East and India.
12. Puff adders (Bitis spp.)
Puff adders, also known as African adders can be found in most parts of Sub Saharan Africa, however some species have been known to occur in Morocco. Their characteristic threat display involves them puffing up their bodies and then loudly expelling the air and hissing.
The lamprophiids are a very diverse group of snakes in their biology and ecology. Often, snakes that fall under the same family share similar lifestyles, however lamprophiids are very different from species to species.
Some species are fossorial, meaning they spend much of their lives underground while others are mainly arboreal. Some species are strictly terrestrial and some split their time between being on land and in the water! Different lamprophiids can be found in virtually all sorts of habitat types.
Most of these snakes can be found in Africa, however there are species that are found in Asia and Europe as well. They share ancestry with both elapids and colubrids.
Examples of lamprophiids – Lamprophiidae
13. African water snakes (Lycodonmorphous spp.)
African water snakes are small, nonvenomous snakes endemic to Africa. There are several species that can be found, many of which have a distribution that is limited to Tanzania. As the name would suggest, they tend to be semi-aquatic but are also found in wooded areas.
14. Brown house snakes (Boaedon spp.)
Similar to African water snakes, Brown house snakes are smaller, non-venomous snakes. They tend to be under four feet long, however the females are often larger than the males. Brown house snakes are nocturnal and prefer heavily wooded areas, however they can also be found in towns and villages. They serve as a natural pest control and feed on rodents.
15. Madagascar burrowing snake (Pararhadinaea melanogaster)
Madagascar burrowing snakes are native and endemic to the island of Madagascar. Despite their name suggesting that they live in burrows, they are actually very secretive and not much is known about their behavior. They are thought to live under logs and leaf litter and may also live underground. These snakes are harmless and feed on small invertebrates.
Most people are familiar with Boas due to their popularity in the pet trade. Boas are closely related to the python family, but are considered “new world” species with most species being found in North and South America.
Boas are nonvenomous and subdue their prey by tightly wrapping around or constricting their prey. Contrary to popular belief, this method of taking down prey does not actually suffocate the animal but instead raises their blood pressure to a point where the snake essentially forces their prey to have a heart attack!
Boas also exclusively give birth via viviparity and ovoviviparity or through live birth. Many species have pit organs which they use to detect thermal changes in their environment. Like Pitvipers, these pits are used to help locate and grab prey.
Examples of boas – Boidae
16. Boa constrictors (Boa constrictor)
The Boa constrictor is one of the few species in the animal kingdom that has the same common and scientific name. However, they are also often referred to as Red-tailed Boas. They are very popular pets due to their relatively calm temperament. Boa constrictors are native to tropical South America and can also be found on some Caribbean islands.
17. Tree boas (Corallus spp.)
There are nine species of Tree Boas, all of which sport beautiful patterning or coloration or both. Perhaps the most recognizable species is the Emerald Tree Boa, which comes in a lovely shade of lime green. The Tree boas are native to South America and tend to live an arboreal lifestyle, hence the name.
18. Rainbow boas (Epicrates cenchria)
It is no surprise that with a name like Rainbow boa that these snakes are gorgeous! Rainbow boas sport beautiful orange iridescent scales with circular patterns that run down the length of their body. These snakes tend to have a feisty disposition and are quick to strike when agitated.
19. Anacondas (Eunectes spp.)
Anacondas are arguably some of the most impressive and well-known of snakes in the Boidae family. In fact, the Green Anaconda is the largest snake in the world by mass. Anacondas are aquatic specialists and spend most of their time in rivers and wetlands in South America.
6. Shield-tailed snakes
The Shield-tailed snakes are a family of secretive snakes native to India and Sri Lanka. They get their name from their thick, spiny scales on their tail. Scientists know very little about this group of snake’s biology and behavior, however what is known is they have a tendency to burrow and spend much of their time underground.
These snakes eat invertebrates and biologists have found remnants of mud and earthworms in their gut contents. They are harmless and are not known to bite. Instead, Shield-tailed snakes will coil their bodies and hide their heads.
Examples of shield-tailed snakes – Uropeltidae
20. Black shield tailed snake (Melanophidium spp.)
While some species of Shield tailed snakes are rather drab looking, the Black shield tailed snake has very iridescent and glossy scales that give off a blue and or yellow hue. The Black shield tailed snake is native to the Western Ghats of India.
21. Spotted earth snake (Uropeltic maculata)
Another common name for the Shield tailed snakes is earth snake. The Spotted earth snake gets its name from the presence of spots that run down the sides of the body. These spots are typically a deep red color and contrast against their brown scales. This species is endemic to Southern India and is thought to inhabit high altitudes.
22. Madurai shield tail (Uropeltis madurensis)
The Madurai shield tail is endemic to the Western Ghats in India. They have dark brown or black scales, all of which have a bright yellow outline. These snakes are fossorial and spend much of their time underground or under rocks, but are fairly active after heavy rains and at night.
Snakes that fall into the Homalopsidae family are also known as Indo-Australian water snakes or mud snakes. This family of snakes can be found throughout Asia and Australia, and many species are highly associated with water bodies or wet environments.
While they are not considered to be dangerous to humans, all species are mildly venomous. This venom may cause swelling and irritation near the bite site in humans, but it is more for taking down prey. Like colubrids, they also have rear facing teeth that they use to grab hold of their prey.
Examples of type homalopsids – Homalopsidae
23. Puff-faced water snake (Homalopsis buccata)
As the name would suggest, the Puff-faced water snake has a somewhat thick and puffy looking snout. They grow to be fairly large for a water snake and grow up to be a meter long but tend to have rather thick bodies. These snakes are most commonly found around fresh water bodies in Southeast Asia and feed on small fish, eels, frogs and crabs.
24. Crab eating water snake (Fordonia leucobalia)
Crab eating water snakes are a fascinating species due to the way that they consume their food. They are unique in the sense that they will actually tear apart their prey, which typically consists of crabs, using their jaws prior to eating while virtually all other snake species consume their prey whole. These snakes are built for an aquatic lifestyle and have nostrils that close when they dive underwater.
25. Bockadam snake (Cerberus rynchops)
The Bockadam snake can be found in coastal regions of Southern and Southeast Asia. It is highly associated with water and can be found in mudflats, mangrove forests, tidal pools, streams, ponds and in rice paddy fields. While they are great swimmers, they have also adopted a side-winding technique to spring across mudflats.
Pythons are a group of well known and popular snakes, often kept in captivity and used for educational animals at zoos. While there are many species of pythons, they are perhaps most well known for their ability for some species to reach incredible lengths. In fact, one species, the Reticulated python, is the longest species of snake in the world- reaching lengths of up to 30 feet!
Pythons are very closely related to the Boas. They share a similar body plan and biology. For example, both Boas and Pythons are ambush predators and will sit and wait for a prey item to walk by before quickly striking and constricting around the animal. This hunting style often means that both Boas and Pythons lead somewhat lazy lifestyles and may stay in the same spot for weeks on end!
Unlike Boas, however, Pythons do not give life birth and instead lay eggs. Pythons are thought to be attentive mothers and will often remain coiled around their eggs until hatching. The Pythonidae family has species that are native to Asia, Australia and Africa.
Examples of pythons – Pythonidae
26. Burmese python (Python bivittatus)
Burmese pythons fall into the top five largest snakes in the world and can be as long as nearly 20 feet long. Not only do they grow to be long, but they also grow to be very heavy! Some captive Burmese pythons may weigh several hundred pounds. These snakes are native to Southeast Asia, but have become an incredibly harmful and prolific invasive species in Florida.
27. Reticulated python (Malayopython reticulatus)
The longest snake in the world, the Reticulated python can reach incredible lengths of up to 30 feet- however specimens of this size are rarely encountered. These snakes are as beautiful as they are large and sport a gorgeous chain link pattern with yellow, orange, white and black scales. Reticulated pythons live in diverse habitats in Southeast Asia and can even be found in cities as large and busy as Bangkok.
28. Ball python (Python regius)
Ball pythons are very popular in the pet trade due to being considered low maintenance and relatively easy to care for when it comes to pet reptiles. One thing that is attractive to many pet owners is that they do not get as large as other python species and only grow to be 3-5 feet. Ball pythons are native to sub-Saharan Africa where they occupy grasslands, forests and shrublands.
9. Dwarf boas
Dwarf boas, also known as Thunder snakes are a group of snakes found in Central and South America as well as on several Caribbean islands. As the name suggests, they are on the smaller size and tend to only be between one and two feet long. Several species have eye-catching patterns of bold colors.
Most species are thought to be nocturnal and spend their days hidden under fallen leaf litter and logs. Other species are arboreal and spend much of their time in the trees and above ground. In addition to curling into a ball when threatened, Dwarf Boas are actually known to excrete blood from their eyes, mouth, and nostrils as a way to ward off predators.
Examples of dwarf boas – Tropidophiidae
29. Northern Eyelash boa (Trachyboa boulengri)
Northern Eyelash boas are fairly primitive, almost dragon-like looking snakes found in Ecuador, Colombia, and Panama. They get their name from the unique scalation on their face that gives them the appearance of having eyelashes. They are semi-aquatic, and often sit in water waiting to ambush frogs, tadpoles and fish.
30. Bahamian pygmy boa constrictor (Tropidophis canus)
The Bahamian pygmy boa is endemic to the Great Inagua Island of the Bahamas. They only grow to be between one and two feet long and tend to be more terrestrial than arboreal. Interestingly enough, these snakes are able to change colors through their darkly pigmented granules in their scales moving. This helps them to better camouflage themselves based on the lighting and time of day.
31. Dusky dwarf boa (Tropidophis melanurus)
Of the dwarf boas, the Dusky dwarf boas is one of the larger species, with adults reaching up to lengths over three feet. They are mainly found in Cuba, but can also be found on neighboring islands. They vary in coloration between a mustard like yellow and more subtle shades of brown.
10. Snail-eating snake
Snail-eating snakes, also known as slug-eating snakes, are small bodied snakes native to Southeast Asia. They have specialized jaws that allow them to hunt and consume their main source of prey; snails and slugs- hence the name. Their bottom jaw is asymmetrical with a different number of teeth on each side, which is apparently optimal for prying snails out of their spiral shells.
Snail-eating snakes are active hunters, however chasing down their prey doesn’t take too much rigor or the ability to cover ground quickly like snakes like the Black Mamba. There are two subfamilies of this genus, with one genus including species that tend to be more arboreal, and the other being more arboreal.
Examples of snail-eating snakes – Pareidae
32. Keeled slug-eating snake (Pareas carinatus)
The Keeled slug-eating snake is a widely distributed species throughout Asia, with its range reaching as far north as Southern China and as far South as Indonesia. They are nocturnal and prefer forests or forest edges. They are mainly arboreal and are thought to feed exclusively on molluscs called gastropods- otherwise known as snails and slugs!
33. Perrotet’s mountain snake (Xylophis perroteti)
Perrotet’s mountain snake, named after a French naturalist, George Samuel Perrottet, is native to the Western Ghats in India. As the name would suggest, these snakes prefer higher mountainous habitats and are found in forests at altitudes between 5,000 and 8,000 feet.
34. White spotted slug snake (Pareas margaritophorus)
The White spotted slug snake is widely distributed throughout much of Asia and Southeast Asia. Like other species in their family, they are small and harmless to humans. In addition to their diet of slugs and snails, they also feed on earthworms.
11. Dragon & odd-scaled snakes
Snakes in the Xenodermidae family can be found in moist, forested habitats throughout Southeast Asia. There are five genera of Dragon & odd-scaled snakes, all of which have species of snakes with unusual scales.
There are five genera in the family, with some genera having scales that are spaced out from each other and do not overlap in the way most snake scales do. Other genera have snakes with rigid, and pronounced, dragon-like scales.
Examples of Xenodermidae
35. Dragon snake (Xenodermus javanicus)
The Dragon snake is identifiable by its parallel rows of pronounced scales along the spine, giving it a somewhat dragon-like appearance. In the face of a threat, these snakes stiffen their entire body, which supposedly makes them look unappetizing and difficult to consume to a predator. They are found in Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar and parts of Borneo in habitats near or surrounding fresh water.
36. Formosan odd-scaled snake
Formosan odd-scaled snakes have a small distribution and are only found in Taiwan and some small islands off the coast of Southern Japan. Their scales are spaced out from each other and are yellow, black and brown but give off an iridescent hue in certain lights.
37. Borneo red snake (Stoliczkia borneensis)
The Borneo red snake is unsurprisingly endemic to Borneo. There have been few specimens collected of this species, meaning that records of it are few and far between. However, local knowledge suggests that it is abundant within sub montane forests and close to streams.
12. Asian pipe snakes
Asian pipe snakes are secretive and cryptic snakes that are thought to be semi-fossorial. They get their common name from their body plan, which is cylindrical and pipe-like. These snakes have blunt heads which are the same width and are indistinct from the rest of their body. They have very small eyes, which is likely an evolutionary result of their underground lifestyle.
Snakes in the cylindrophiidae family are harmless to humans. However they do have an interesting defense mechanism, which is to flatten the tail-end of their body and lift it off the ground. Most species have brightly colored ventral scales which are put on display when using this defense.
Examples of Asian pipe snakes
38. Red-tailed pipe snake (Cylindrophus ruffus)
As the name would suggest, the Red-tailed pipe snake does in fact have a brightly colored, red tip on their tail which they show when threatened. They are found throughout almost the entirety of Southeast Asia and tend to inhabit agricultural areas, especially around crops like rice paddies. They tend to eat other tube-shaped animals like snakes, eels and amphibians called caecilians.
39. Jampea Island pipe snake (Cylindrophis isopleis)
The Jampea Island pipe snake is found on a large island, Tanah Jampea, south of Indonesia. It’s latin name, isopleis, literally means “equal scale”. These snakes have equal ventral (belly) scales and dorsal (back) scales. They are small snakes and are not thought to reach over 17 inches.
40. Ceylonese cylinder snake (Cylindrophis maculatus)
This species is endemic to Sri Lanka. Like it’s relatives, it is semi-fossorial and is often found under rotting or decaying logs or plant matter and rocks. It is active at night where it hunts down other small species of snakes. These snakes have a gorgeous spotted pattern along their dorsal scales.
13. Dwarf pipe snake
There are only three species of Dwarf pipe snakes, and their range is limited to Malaysia and Sumatra, an island of Indonesia. They are similar in morphology to the Asian Pipe snakes with cylindrical bodies and blunt heads. As to be expected, they are smaller than their pipe-shaped relatives and do not grow larger than 20 inches.
Not much is known about Dwarf pipe snakes, meaning that much of their biology, ecology and behavior is a mystery for biologists. They are thought to consume small invertebrates.
Examples of dwarf pipe snakes – Anomochilidae
41. Leonard’s pipe snake (Anomochilus leonardi)
The Leonard’s pipe snake, also known as the Malayan giant blind snake, is native to peninsular Malaysia. Not much is known about their population trends, but they are listed as “Least concern” on the IUCN red list. They are thought to prefer forested habitats.
42. Weber’s pipe snake (Anomochilus weberi)
Weber’s pipe snakes are native to Indonesia and Malaysia. They occupy forested habitats at altitudes between just under 1,000 feet and 3,280 feet. They are relatively drab, and are brown with light spots along their back.
43. Mountain pipe snake (Anomochilus monticola)
The Mountain pipe snake, similar to its relatives, is a small snake growing no larger than 20 inches. It is a somewhat recently discovered species, and it’s discovery has been based on only three specimens- meaning there is still much to be learned about them.
14. Wart snakes
Contrary to their common name, Wart snakes do not actually have warts. But their scales are unique from most other snake scales and rather than the typical flat, overlapping diamond shaped scales, they are very small, pyramidal scales that stick out. This scalation can give the appearance of warts, and is where they get their name from!
In addition to their textured scales, they also appear to have skin that is too loose for them and creates a very wrinkled appearance. They spend their time exclusively in freshwater, where they ambush unassuming fish.
Examples of wart snakes – Acrochordidae
44. Arafura file snake (Acrochordus arafurae)
Arafura file snakes are native to Australia and New Guinea and inhabit freshwater bodies, referred to as billabongs. They grow to be fairly large, and can be larger than eight feet in length, with females often growing larger. They feed on fish as large as catfish.
45. Little wart snake (Acrochordus granulatus)
The Little wart snake is native to India, Southeast Asia and the Solomon Islands off the coast of New Guinea. They have specialized sensory organs, called tubercles that help
them to detect the movement of their prey in the water. They also have flattened tails that act as a fin and help to propel them through the water.
46. Elephant trunk snake (Acrochordus javanicus)
The Elephant trunk snake is another fairly large wart snake, growing up to just under seven feet. These snakes have a body plan made exclusively for an aquatic lifestyle, and actually their body weight on dry land is enough to seriously injure them. They are distributed throughout much of Southeast Asia.
15. Splitjaw snakes
The only splitjaw snake species
47. Round Island boa (Casarea dussumieri)
Splitjaw snakes, also known as Round island boas, are a monotypic family of snakes with only one species currently alive. There is one other species that is now classified as extinct. They are endemic to the island of Mauritius and several islands surrounding. Round Island boas were originally classed in the same family as the Boas, but have since been separated.
They get their name from their unique upper jaw bone which is divided and hinged. Their heads are elongated and flat, and which is apparently helpful for grabbing hold of and hunting their primary prey; lizards. These snakes are listed as endangered due to habitat loss.
16. Sunbeam snakes
Sunbeam snakes are a striking family of snakes, with only two species currently recognized. They are named for their glossy, iridescent scales. Both species are native to Southeast Asia. The Xenopeltidae family is actually closely related to the Pythonidae family.
Similar to the pythons, they also are non venomous and kill their prey by wrapping around them tightly. They are semi-fossorial and emerge from their burrows at night. They have a diverse diet and eat other snakes, frogs and small mammals.
Example of splitjaw snake
48. Xenopeltis hainanensis
This species of Sunbeam snake does not actually have an english common name, but it’s name in Chinese translates to “Hainan flash scale snake”. These snakes are only found in China and Vietnam on forest slopes.
Sunbeam snake (Xenopeltis unicolor)
These snakes are widely spread throughout Southeast Asia, where they can be found in disturbed forests, parks and even around agricultural crops like rice paddies. They are mild-mannered and not known to bite, but they have been observed to beat their tail against the ground in times of stress.
17. Spine-jawed snakes
There are only two species of Spinejaw snakes, and this family is limited to parts of Malaysia and Borneo. They are secretive snakes, and biologists do not know much about their biology. Spine-jawed snakes are unique from other snakes in the sense that they have sensory papillae- much like the structures on our tongue (i.e., tastebuds!) on the surface of their head.
In addition to the teeth on their jaws, Spine-jawed snakes have spines on the palette of their upper jaw. The only specimens of this family that have been thoroughly analyzed are females, making these snakes even more of a mystery.
Examples of spine-jawed snakes
49. Bornean spine-jawed snake (Xenophidion acanthognathus)
Only two specimens of the Bornean spine-jawed snake have been collected, and they are generally a very unknown species. They are thought to live in forested areas in Borneo, however it is not clear what they eat or when they are active. Additionally, biologists do not have information on their population trends.
50. Malayan spinejaw snake (Xenophidion schaeferi)
The Malayan spinejaw snake is native to Malaysia, where it can be found in the peninsular region. While these snakes, like their relatives, are somewhat mysterious there is some more information about their life history. For example, it is known that these snakes live in forests and are oviparous and lay eggs.
18. False coral snake
Example of a false coral snake
51. False coral snake (Anilius scytale)
This family of snakes has a single species, the False coral snake, also known as the American pipe snake. This species is native to South America, where it occupies the northern region of the country and the Amazon rainforest.
These snakes have striking coloration, with a black and bright red striped pattern down the length of their body. False coral snakes share a similar cylindrical body shape with the Asian pipe snakes, but are not actually closely related. They feed mostly on reptiles and amphibians.
19. Mexican burrowing snake
The only species of Mexican burrowing snake
52. Mexican burrowing snake (Loxocemus bicolor)
The Loxocemidae family, also known as the Mexican burrowing snakes or even Mexican python, has a single species of snakes. They are native to Mexico and other parts of Central America and can be found in all sorts of forest types. This family is actually fairly closely related to the pythons and the sunbeam snakes, and like their relatives, constrict their prey.
They have very small eyes and a shovel shaped head, both of which are adapted for a semi-fossorial or mostly underground life. They do not often grow to be much larger than three feet and length and feed on mice, rats and lizards.
Types of snakes in Infraorder Scolecophidia
In the infraorder Scolecophidia, there are five different taxonomic families: Typhlopidae, Leptotyphlopidae, Anomalepidae, Gerrhopilidae, and Xenotyphlopidae. All of these families are various types of Blind snakes. Blind snakes are almost entirely blind, but they do have very very small eyes, which is appropriate for their fossorial lifestyle as they spend much of their time underground.
Blind snakes are native to tropical and subtropical regions virtually all over the world. This group of snakes range from two inches to 40 inches, but most species are very small. At first glance, many people confuse Blind snakes for worms, as they are long, cylindrical like a worm and glossy.
Blind snakes are completely harmless, in fact most are likely too small to even bite humans. They feed exclusively on invertebrates and have even been known to feed on ant or termite eggs or larvae. Due to their similarities, we will introduce a single example of a species from each family.
20. Typical blind snakes
Typical blind snake example
53. Brahminy blind snake (Indotyphlops braminus)
The Brahminy blind snake is a widely distributed species of blind snake. It is native to Africa and Asia, but has been introduced to other regions and can actually also be found in the United States in Florida, where it is very common. They do well in urban areas and can survive in seemingly poor habitat for snakes, which is likely why they have been so easily established in other places. Brahminy blind snakes only grow to be between two and four inches.
21. Slender blind snakes
Slender blind snake example
54. Barbados threadsnake (Tetracheilostoma carlae)
The Barbados threadsnake is thought to be the smallest snake in the world. Not only are they very small in length, growing no more than four inches long, they are also very thin as the name would suggest. These snakes are roughly the width of a piece of spaghetti. They are native to Barbados, but not much is known about their habitat requirements or their population sizes.
22. Primitive blind snakes
Primitive blind snake example
55. Whitenose blind snake (Liotyphlops albirostris)
Whitenose blind snakes, like the other snakes in this family are mysterious and not much is known about them. This particular species has been found in Colombia, Panama, Venezuela and the island of Curaçao. They get their name from their head being a white/pale color compared to the rest of their body.
23. Indo-Malayan blind snakes
Indo-Malayan blind snake example
56. Wall’s worm snake (Gerrhopilus oligolepis)
Wall’s worm snake is a species of blindsnake found in the Himalayan mountains in parts of India and Nepal. Similar to their relatives, there is very little information available about this species and family of blindsnakes, however they are known to inhabit areas of high altitudes and can be found as high up as 5000 feet.
24. Round-nosed blind snake
Round-nosed blind snake example
57. Malagasy blind snake (Xenotyphlops grandidieri)
The Malagasy blind snake is only found in Northern Madagascar. Sadly, it is listed as critically endangered and has been greatly affected by mining and logging operations in its habitat. It looks slightly different from other blind snakes as it has a larger snout. Otherwise, it shares many characteristics with it’s relatives.