There are 46 species of blind snakes belonging to the genus Anilios in Australia. The most commonly encountered species in the eastern states is Anilios nigrescens.
The Blind Snakes of Australia are unlike other snakes in appearance having worm-like bodies uniform in thickness along its length with a very short tail ending in a conical spine. They are a small burrowing snake, pink or grey in colour and have a forked tongue and smooth scales around their bodies (no broad belly scales) that allow them to travel through soil.
Their eyes are not obvious and are present as small dark spots under semi-transparent scales. While they are called blind snakes, this is not entirely true. It is believed that they have blurred vision, and can definitely distinguish light from dark. Most people encounter blind snakes while digging in their gardens and they are often mistaken for earthworms. Many sadly also come to grief in back yard swimming pools.
Below the ground they use tunnels made by insects, above the ground they move in a side-to-side swimming motion.
Their main food supply is ants and termites, including the eggs and larvae of both, and as long as that food supply is available that’s where they are likely to be. To find their food Blind Snakes flick their tongue to taste and smell the trail of ants and termites. They follow the ants’ trails to the nest. They rake ants and termites into their mouth with their top jaw and swallow their food whole.
They lay one to twenty round eggs at breeding season and once hatched the young snakes look after themselves.
Blind snakes are non-venomous and harmless.