Does the Smallest Snake Species on Earth Live on Maui?

Many people say there are no snakes in Hawaii and I don’t mean to split hairs but technically there are, and there have been for some time. I know this to be true because I have personally encountered them.  Also, the Maui Invasive Species Committee (MISC) considers them harmless.  “Brahminy blind snakes do not pose a great threat to our islands but if you ever come across any other type of snake, call 911 immediately.” says a MISC newsletter.

One day while gardening in Haiku a few years ago, I came across a tiny creature that I was told did not exist in Hawaii, a snake! The tiny snake I found is called the Brahminy Blind snake (Indotyphlops braminus). At a quick glance it looks much like an earthworm and it is found in the same kind of places that earthworms like to live.  But, if you look really close at this tiny animal you can see that it has a little tongue that flicks out to taste the air. It also has teeny tiny little scales. Sometimes silvery grey or lavender in color this little snake is quite harmless unless of course you are an ant or termite… and then you are food.

Brahminy Blind snakes usually grow to about 4 inches. Wikipedia says they rarely reach 6 inches in length. But, there were many of these little snakes where I once lived and I never saw one longer than 4 inches. You can feel with your finger that they have a pointy tip on their tail, unlike an earthworm, and they don’t stretch either. If you would allow the little snake to wrap around you finger you would feel a little poke caused by the end of the tail trying to hang onto you. They are about a thick as a cooked spaghetti noodle. Possibly the smallest snake species on the planet. It is by far the smallest I have seen. There is some debate about a snake in Barbados being called the “threadsnake” being the smallest snake ever discovered on the planet. I have not found any proof that these are or are not the same species.

These little creature are so small and delicate Sadly, I accidentally killed the first one I ever found on Maui. It was a bittersweet moment. On one had I was happy about what I found, but I was sad that I had killed it, probably with my little hand shovel. The snake in the photo to the left is the one that died. But you can tell from the photo that they are very small.

I hope you enjoyed reading about the Brahminy blind snake. Next time you are playing in the dirt keep an eye out for this little termite eating snake.  I will leave it up to you to contact them if you find one but know they are quite harmless.

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