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Texas Threadsnake Fact File

Rena dulcis

Weight

1.4g

(0.05oz)

Length

15-27cm

(6-11in)

Lifespan

Insufficient

Data

Diet

Carnivore

Insects

Conservation Status

IUCN

Least Concern

The texas threadsnake is a species of snake which as its name suggests is found in parts of the Southern United States and northern Mexico.

These tiny snakes reach a length of just 15-27cm (6-11in) long with a weight of 1.4g (0.05oz).

These animals are carnivores and specialize in feeding on ants and termites. They can emit a pheromone which allows them to enter the nests of these animals undetected and feed on the insects inside.

They are threatened by the introduction of domestic cats and fire ants along with vehicle strikes.

Read on to learn more about these reptiles.

Appearance

The body of the Texas threadsnake is covered by pinkish brown scales. These scales are smooth. On the underside the scales are lighter in color.

Due to their burrowing lifestyle the eyes are covered by a scale and considered vestigial. Their head is blunt to help them push earth out of the way as they dig.

An average Texas threadsnake measures 15-27cm (6-11in) long with a weight of 1.4g (0.05oz). At the end of the tail is a small spine.

No external differences exist within males and females.

Diet


The Texas threadsnake is a carnivore which feeds almost exclusively on insects. Their diet includes ants, termites, spiders and other invertebrates.

They show a preference for the larvae of these animals and it has been suggested but not confirmed that the hard shell of adults could be harmful to their digestion.

When hunting they will enter the nests of ants and termites to feed on the larvae. To stay safe in the nest they can emit pheromones to imitate the insects. This makes the insects think they belong in the nest.

To help locate food the Texas threadsnake is equipped with a keen sense of smell.

Texas Threadsnake

Range

While known as the Texas threadsnake the range of this species is not just restricted to Texas. They can be found across parts of the southern United States and northern Mexico.

Habitat

Texas threadsnakes are found in arid or semi arid habitats. They may also be found in forest, savanna, shrubland and grassland. This species is reliant on the presence of loose, moist soil which they can burrow in to.

Some reports of the species exist from residential areas.

They will seek shelter under rocks, logs or debris.

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Reproduction

Egg laying occurs during June and July. To find a mate the male will follow pheromone trails left by females. On occasion multiple males will arrive at the same female, at the same time and form a breeding ball as they all attempt to gain access to her.

Texas threadsnakes will deposit their eggs in an underground chamber, a hollow among decaying vegetation or in a rocky fissure.

Between 2 and 7 eggs are deposited in a pile and the mother then wraps around them until they hatch. The eggs will hatch by late summer.

At hatching the young are pink and approximately 7cm (2.8in) long.

Behavior

Almost the entire life of the Texas threadsnake is spent below ground. They may come to the surface at night after periods of rain. Texas threadnsakes may thermoregulate by resting on a rock in the sun.

Texas threadsnakes may be caught by screech owls and brought to their nest. Here they will eat the small invertebrates which may present a threat to the owl and its chicks assisting their survival. If the snake can not return to the ground quickly enough it may perish.

During winter it is common for them to enter a period of hibernation.

Texas Threadsnake

Predators and Threats

Natural predators of the Texas threadsnake include invertebrates such as centipedes, snakes, birds and mammals including moles, armadillos and skunks. If they are detected as an invader in the nest of Army ants they may prey on them.

Despite their relationship with the eastern screech owl these animals are also a predator of the Texas threadsnake.

Domestic cats can prey on this species.

While no formal estimate of the Texas threadsnake population exists it is estimated that over 100,000 mature individuals make up the population. They are known from a large number of collection sites.

It is thought that the area of occupation and population size has been subject to declines against historical data.

They are threatened by the introduction of fire ants which can prey on them and vehicle strikes.

Quick facts

The Texas threadsnake is also known as the Plains thread snake, worm snake or the Texas blindsnake.

Their scientific name comes from a Latin world "duleis" meaning "sweet."

Photo Credits

Top and Middle

Copyright Free.

Bottom

LA Dawson, CC BY-SA 2.5 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5>, via Wikimedia Commons

References

Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK

Jackson, T. and Chinery, M., 2012. The illustrated encyclopedia of animals of the world. London: Southwater.

Hammerson, G.A., Frost, D.R. & Santos-Barrera, G. 2007. Rena dulcis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2007: e.T64057A12740793. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2007.RLTS.T64057A12740793.en. Downloaded on 29 July 2021.

Landscapeipm.tamu.edu. 2021. Texas Blind Snake « Landscape IPM. [online] Available at: <https://landscapeipm.tamu.edu/what-is-ipm/ipm-concepts/pest-identification/good-bug-bad-bug/neither/texas-blind-snake/> [Accessed 29 July 2021].

Encyclopedia.com. 2021. Slender Blind Snakes, Thread Snakes, or Worm Snakes: Leptotyphlopidae | Encyclopedia.com. [online] Available at: <https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/slender-blind-snakes-thread-snakes-or-worm-snakes-leptotyphlopidae> [Accessed 29 July 2021].

The Reptile Database. 2021. Rena dulcis. [online] Available at: <https://reptile-database.reptarium.cz/species?genus=Rena&species=dulcis> [Accessed 30 July 2021].

Prediger, A. 2012. "Leptotyphlops dulcis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed July 28, 2021 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Leptotyphlops_dulcis/

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