False Blindsnakes (Anomochilidae)

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False blindsnakes


Class Reptilia

Order Squamata

Suborder Serpentes

Family Anomochilidae

Thumbnail description
Superficially like small pipesnakes (Cylindrophiidae) that have a short mouth, tiny eyes, and lack a mental groove

8–14 in (20–36 cm)

Number of genera, species
1 genus; 2 species

Probably leaf litter, loose soils, but little known

Conservation status
Data Deficient: 2 species

Sumatra, Malaysian Peninsula, and Borneo

Evolution and systematics

Although the genus Anomochilus is known from very few specimens, none of which have been kept alive, a detailed anatomical study of a single specimen of A. weberi suggested

that this genus is the most primitive living member of the group (clade) to which all of the large-jawed ("true") snakes (Alethinophidia) belong. Current systematic treatments therefore place the genus among the most basal members, or as the most basal member, of the group. No subfamilies are recognized.

Physical characteristics

These small snakes have blunt heads, short tails, and cylindrical bodies of uniform diameter. The mouth is short and slightly subterminal, the eyes are small, and the spectacle is reduced or absent. Both species have 17–19 scale rows (scale row formulae of 17–19–17, 17–17–17, 17–17–15 reported) and the number of ventrals ranges from 222–252 in A. leonardi and 236–248 in A. weberi. In keeping with its short tail, there are only six to eight subcaudal scales.


These snakes are found in Sumatra, Malaysian Peninsula, and Borneo. However, the few known specimens have a

strange pattern of distribution. Specimens of A. weberi come from west-central Sumatra and south-central Kalimantan, Borneo, and the specimens of A. leonardi were caught in central peninsular Malaysia and in Sabah, near the northeast coast of Borneo. It seems likely that these specimens represent either a single species or a number of species different from current accounts.


Very little is known about this family's habitat, but it probably includes leaf litter and loose soils.


Not known.

Feeding ecology and diet

Both species are assumed to feed on invertebrates (worms, insect larvae) but no stomach contents are known.

Reproductive biology

The presence of shelled eggs in one female suggests that the genus is probably oviparous.

Conservation status

Listed as Data Deficient by the IUCN.

Significance to humans

None known.



David, P., and G. Vogel. The Snakes of Sumatra. Frankfurt am Main, Germany: Edition Chimaira, 1996.

Greene, H. W. Snakes: The Evolution of Mystery in Nature. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999.


Cundall, D., and D. A. Rossman. "Cephalic Anatomy of the Rare Indonesian Snake Anomochilus weberi." Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 109 (1993): 235–273.

Cundall, D., V. Wallach, and D. A. Rossman. "The Systematic Relationships of the Snake Genus Anomochilus." Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 109 (1993): 275–299.

Steubing, R. B., and R. Goh. "A New Record of Leonard's Pipe Snake Anomochilus leonardi Smith (Serpentes: Uropeltidae: Cylindrophinae) from Sabah, Northwestern Borneo." Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 41 (1993): 311–314.

David Cundall, PhD