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the web of life in southern Africa

Leptotyphlops nigricans (Cape worm snake, Black thread snake)

Kaapse erdslangetjie, Swartdraadslangetjie [Afrikaans]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Lepidosauromorpha > Lepidosauria > Squamata > Serpentes (snakes) > Family: Leptotyphlopidae > Genus: Leptotyphlops


The Cape worm snake can be identified by its small size, rounded head and highly polished brown or black scales and it is entirely fossorial (underground living). It grows to an average length of 16 cm and a maximum length of 20 cm.

Distribution and habitat

This snake species is restricted to the Cape east coast. Its favoured habitat is fynbos nut it is also found in savanna and grassland.


Eats invertebrates.

Predators, parasites and disease

Eaten by other snakes, birds, small carnivorous mammals (e.g. mongooses) and scorpions.


Oviparous (egg-laying).



Medical importance




  • Broadley, D.G. 1983. FitzSimons' Snakes of Southern Africa. Delta Books, Johannesburg.

  • Marais, J. 2004. A Complete Guide to Snakes of Southern Africa. Struik Publishing, Cape Town.