Bonaire’s Only Snake Species – Leptotyphlops albifrons

July 31st, 2008 at 12:37 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

It’s fun when one doesn’t even have to leave one’s house to find adventure. Last night Bas spotted a very small critter on the floor in the hallway to our bedrooms. At first blush it appeared to be a millipede, but with magnification we discovered that in fact it was Bonaire’s extremely elusive Silver Snake, the only species of snake known to exist natively on the island. We captured the snake on a piece of paper and found a plastic Hefty plate to put him on to keep him from getting loose (and to provide good contrast) while I took photos.

Bonaire Silver Snake next to a pen cap

As you can see from the above photo, the snake is tiny – we put a regular pen cap near him to show the relative size. The Silver Snake (Latin name is “Leptotyphlops albifrons”) apparently can get up to 10 centimeters (four inches) in length, although we estimate this one at about 2/3rd that stretched out.

Bonaire Silver Snake Close Up

Above is a close-up with macro lens. You can make out the snake’s eyes. After the photo shoot, we released him into the front yard for his (or her) safety.

The book “Nos Bestianan / Our Animals – Curacao | Bonaire | Aruba” by Dr. Bart A. de Boer says these tiny snakes are very hard to find. We’d agree with that as this is the first one we’ve ever seen in our 11 years on Bonaire. They only hunt for a brief time at dusk (which is when we found this one), and are otherwise hunting under rocks. They apparently eat very small insects, including ants, termites, and insect larvae.

Anyhow, a very cool experience – a lot more fun and less hazardous than the scorpions we find with regularity (the scorpions sting with the same pain as a bee sting, annoying but not otherwise dangerous).

 

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12 Responses to “Bonaire’s Only Snake Species – Leptotyphlops albifrons”

  1. DARLENE ELLIS Says:

    How cool is that!!!! Man that it small for a snake! I must say though, that I hope I never run in to one while in Bonaire!!

  2. Jessica Says:

    How cute! That’s MY kind of snake. Small, safe and bug eating.

  3. CC Says:

    And here i thought my trips to Bonaire were safe from snakes. The phobia will live on, even on Bonaire! It’s a small snake, but it’s STILL a snake!

    -foreverphobic

  4. Denise Says:

    Let’s hope the dogs don’t eat it 🙂

    Always learning, I would never have guessed this to be a snake. It looks more like a skinny worm. When you released it what did it do? slither under something, dig into underground, just stay put, . . .?

  5. Jake Richter Says:

    Krystyana says it slithered away into the underbrush – we let it go in front of the house so the dogs wouldn’t be nearby 🙂

    Jake

  6. Faith Says:

    CNN has an article about the Silver Snake’s cousin in Barbados, Leptotyphlops carlae: http://www.cnn.com/2008/TECH/science/08/03/tiny.snake.ap/index.html

  7. Jake Richter Says:

    Yep – I saw that, Faith. What they found is nothing more than the local version of Leptothyphlops on Barbados. It’s not the world’s smallest snake though, as at four inches it’s average size compared to the other species of Leptotyphlops found in Curacao and on Bonaire. I sent Reuters a message about the misrepresentation.

  8. Jake Richter Says:

    Well, the smallest snake controversy continues as Barbadians slam the discovery and naming of the snake Professor Hedges “discovered”:

    http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hl7qw47SpUFsklljmxARCr3CowZAD92ED2BO0

  9. Give Jack His Jacket Says:

    Well done! Well and truly nailed. I now have to go and try and find the one here in Barbados and photograph it.

  10. carlo francisco Says:

    I live in Curaçao and I have seen these snakes in my garden these last year at least 3 times. I have a foto made with my cellphone. I can tell that these were very small less than 4 inch (100 mm). If you like I can send you a photo just send me your mail and i’ll send it to you. You can also take a look at http://naturacao.100megsdns.com/krustas/kolpret.html. This is a better pic than what I have taken (high res.)

  11. Jake Richter Says:

    Carlo,

    Very cool. I understand from Bonaire’s leading naturalist, Jerry Ligon, that the silver snakes are generally found out under rocks and so on, but since they are so small they are often overlooked. I’ve also been told that each of our islands has its own similar species.

    Jake

  12. Robert Ruehlman Says:

    I just took a video of one last week while vacationing in Bonaire.