Show Details

Smallest Snake

August 20, 2008

Scientists discover the world’s smallest snake on Barbados.


An undersized slitherer. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Pennsylvania State University evolutionary biologist Blair Hedges has a knack for finding tiny animals. He helped discover both the world’s smallest frog and the world’s smallest lizard, and now he can add the world’s smallest snake to that list. He stumbled upon the diminutive reptile, called Leptotyphlops carlae, on the island of Barbados. It’s less than four inches long and an eighth of an inch in diameter.

BLAIR HEDGES (Pennsylvania State University):
It’s the thickness of a typical spaghetti noodle. It’s a very small snake.

Hedges thinks the snake’s size may have evolved to fill an ecological niche left open by insects that never reached the island. Because its internal organs are large in proportion to its body size, he believes this may be about as small as a snake can possibly get. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.