Leptotyphlops merkeri

Range: Coastal Tanzania up to south-central Kenya

 

The Merker’s threadsnake is an eastern African endemic, found along the mountain lines stretching from the coast of eastern Tanzania north and west along the country’s northern border into Kenya. It grows up to 23 cm in length, with an often thicker build than many of its relatives. The head is somewhat elongate and slightly broader than the neck, and the back third is thicker and ends in a short conical tail and  prominent spine. Midbody scale row count is 14, 12 on the tail, and dorsal scale count is highly variable, 201-304 (more commonly near the lower end). Coloration is uniform silver-grey to dark brown or black overall, occasionally with white patches on the chin and throat. This species was once considered a subspecies of L. scutifrons, but was separated based on genetic differences, and possesses a higher scale row count on its tail.

 

Habitat: Found from 0-1500 meters in elevation in savannahs, arid to moist grasslands, coastal brush, and some disturbed areas. Typically found in ant nests, occasionally under surface debris and in vegetative root masses.

 

Prey: small soft-bodied invertebrates, especially ant eggs and larvae.

 

Lifespan and reproduction: lifespan unknown, likely under 10 years. Oviparous, lays 2 (rarely 3) elongate ovular white eggs.

 

Unusual facts: Local legends claim this snake will jump up noses in order to strangle people. This, of course, is entirely untrue.

 

 

Sources: https://www.inaturalist.org/photos/53887233

https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/539884-Leptotyphlops-merkeri

https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/47749549/47749558

http://reptile-database.reptarium.cz/species?genus=Leptotyphlops&species=merkeri

https://books.google.com/books?id=UHBUDwAAQBAJ&pg=PA369&lpg=PA369&dq=leptotyphlops+merkeri&source=bl&ots=DGb8-sAYi6&sig=ACfU3U1wHqFxKkUiLzjdokKEWsOPp-c1cA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj12cSJp-nmAhVVXc0KHYD4CbI4ChDoATACegQIChAB#v=onepage&q=leptotyphlops%20merkeri&f=false (some information outdated)

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