World’s Smallest Snake Can Easily Be Mistaken for an Earthworm

Measuring around 10 cm, with a diameter comparable to that of a cooked spaghetti, the Barbados Threadsnake (Tetracheilostoma carlae) is by far the smallest snake in the world.

Spotting a Barbados threadsnake for the first time, you could swear it was an earthworm. They are actually comparable in size and diameter, with the largest specimen ever found measuring only 10.4 centimeters, and are also blind. They also typically weigh under one gram and are small enough to coil on an American quarter. The species was officially discovered slithering beneath a rock near a patch of Barbadian forest in 2008 by evolutionary biologist S. Blair Hedges, but little has been discovered about its ecology and behavior since.

Photo: Nicolas Perrault III/Wikimedia Commons

The Barbados threadsnake is one of the many animal species endemic to the Caribbean island, and confirms an observation scientists have made ever since the days of Charles Darwin – islands are often home to oversized and miniaturized creatures.


This tiny snake is reportedly difficult to study because, like the earthworm is so strongly resembles, it typically lives in the soil under rocks and logs so little is known about it. It is thought to feed mostly on termites and ant larvae, and depend on forested habitat to survive.


Unfortunately, it is the threadsnake’s dependence on forests that could render it extinct in the near future. With only about 10 percent of Barbados’ forests still standing, the survival of this mysterious species is uncertain.