This Tiny Philippine Snake Needs No Sex to Procreate
There’s a tiny non-venomous snake hiding in your garden, where it contents itself with eating eggs of termites and ants. Indotyphlops braminus is no larger than the palm of your hand. It is also blind, hence its common name, brahminy blind snake. In the Philippines, it is called halas.
The brahminy blind snake is a member a family of blind snakes found all over the world, which have evolved dark colors, smooth scales, and mostly useless eyes, perfect for a life lived mostly underground. They are quite similar to earthworms in terms of lifestyle and appearance. On the rare occasions when this snake surfaces above ground, many people mistake it for earthworms.
But that’s hardly what makes this cute little critter so frightening and fascinating: It is able to reproduce without sexual partners. In fact, all members of the species are female. There are no male species of this snake.
So how does the tiny brahminy blind snake procreate?
It’s something called parthenogenesis, a natural form of asexual reproduction, in which an animal is able to produce embryos without any sperm fertilizing its eggs. As a result, all offspring of the brahminy blind snake are technically clones of itself. Parthenogenesis has been mostly observed in a few species of reptiles, but never in humans.
Although the brahminy blind snake is thought to be native in Asia and Africa, it is now found all over the world on all continents except Antarctica.