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Smallest snake in the world: The four-inches long Barbados Threadsnake (leptotyphlops carlae)

Updated on September 27, 2011
World's smallest: The Barbados Threadsnake
World's smallest: The Barbados Threadsnake

Barbados threadsnake

The world's smallest snake is the Barbados Threadsnake. It measures just four inches long and it's thinner than a strand of spaghetti. Tiny!

The non-venomous creature resembles a shiny earthworm and was discovered in a forest on the Caribbean island of Barbados - hence the name, the Barbados Threadsnake.

Biologist S. Blair Hedges from Pennsylvania State University first discovered the snake in 2008 and experts gave it the scientific name of Leptotyphlops carlae.

The second part of the snake's official title - carlae - was named after hedges' wife Carla Ann Hass. She was also part of the expedition that found the serpent.

The snake has become known as the Barbados threadsnake. Rumours of the creatures had existed but before the find there was no evidence, until the biologists set out into the wilderness to finally unearth the tiny reptile.

Similar specimens existed at the London Natural History Museum and in a museum in California but they were identifed wrongly as a species from Martinique, in the Caribbean.

Scroll down for videos of the Barbados Threadsnake

In the palm of a hand: The Barbados Threadsnake is known scientifically as the Leptotyphlops carlae
In the palm of a hand: The Barbados Threadsnake is known scientifically as the Leptotyphlops carlae
The Barbados Threadsnake is small enough to fit on a coin
The Barbados Threadsnake is small enough to fit on a coin

The snake was first found hiding under rocks in the forest. Scientifically, it is the smallest possible size a snake can be in order to find food. If the critter was any smaller, it simply would not be able to live. This raises the possibility that smaller snakes had existed before but through natural section they died out, leaving only the Barbados Threadsnake to prosper.

Snakes from the genus Leptotyphlops are also known as blind snakes, and they burrow to feed on insect larvae. The Barbados Threadsnake is no exception, and is believed to be completely blind.

Endangered reptiles

The Barbados Threadsnake is not classed as an endangered species. At the minute there is not enough information about it and the creature has not been known of long enough for it to be added to the list. These creatures, however, are the top ten most endangered reptiles, according to Earths Endangered.

The average length of an adult is four inches and they are incredibly thin. They are so small that they are able to fit on a quarter. As described above, if the snake was any smaller it would undoubtedly be weeded out by natural selection.

Any further miniaturization would prevent the snakes from producing offspring large enough to forage independently and consume insect larvae.

Experts believe they feed on termite and ant larvae and lay eggs to give birth. It may be this limited food source that actually caused the Barbados Threadsnake to become so small. This is because on islands such as Barbados there are often vacant niches. For example, if there are no millipedes or centipedes living on the island then a snake may evolve down to this size and take over that available food source.

Females produce one egg at a time and the tiny babies are just two inches long. Proportionally, this is actually a pretty large baby compared to other snake species.

So far the Tthreadsnake has only been found in Barbados in the Caribbean. Even there it is very rare.

Two recent specimens of the snake were collected near a small remnant of a secondary forest in the east-central area of Barbados.

The area is the oldest part of Barbados, the first to emerge from the ocean, and the only part that is not covered by a Pleistocene reef cap.

Several closely related species are only fractions of an inch longer, and those species are only known from only a few observations or museum specimens.

Barbados Threadsnake in natural habitat

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    • profile image

      angelolian 

      3 years ago

      when i was looking for worms i caught it and my dad told me its a snake. I got scared so bad that i thought i got bitten D; .So i search it online if its venomous im glad that its not venomous. It was a relief to hear this article ;)

    • profile image

      Some guy 

      5 years ago

      I'd accidentally mistake that thing for a worm and try using it to fish with.. good thing they're not around my area lol

    • profile image

      Mom 

      6 years ago

      This is cool we found a tiny little snake that looked like a worm in our bathroom it had the head and tongue of a snake but brownish red color of a worm

    • profile image

      ian 

      6 years ago

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbCcOnyeHAU

      thats the link.. its 5 inches long..not 4.

    • profile image

      ian 

      6 years ago

      "The average length of an adult is four inches and they are incredibly thin."

      -WELL THEY ARE WRONG!! I DON'T KNOW BUT I THINK IT CAN GROW UP TO 6 INCHES.. I HAVE MINE 5 INCHES....

    • profile image

      ian 

      6 years ago

      i just measured the one i found yesterday, 5 inches..it took me time to measure it coz i am really afraid of snakes..ill let it go after i make some vid

    • profile image

      ian 

      6 years ago

      we have lots of snake of this kind (the black one) i discovered it late 90's, but people here knows already the snake before me and they mistakenly known it as venomous that it can kill a cow, rumors here spread til i found out its not venomous...

      its in our backyard...i don't pet them at all.. yes, this snake is the smallest snake on earth i even found half an inch of it, i thought it was a black worm but found out later as a snake!

      if i were to ask the price of it its probably very high for its rarity.

      i'll post some vid on youtube later just incase you don't believe!

    • Rickrideshorses profile imageAUTHOR

      Rickrideshorses 

      6 years ago from England

      The snake is so rare that it's hard to put a price on it. None of them have ever been sold - they're not pets!

    • profile image

      adam 

      6 years ago

      what's the price of this snake?

    • Rickrideshorses profile imageAUTHOR

      Rickrideshorses 

      6 years ago from England

      If you saw one of these snakes in the wild you'd probably mistake it for a worm!

    • natures47friend profile image

      natures47friend 

      7 years ago from Sunny Art Deco Napier, New Zealand.

      Wow. What a cute species of snake. I actually didn't know about their existence.

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