Snakes are generally not blind, but some are. A snake has poor eyesight, but it can boost its vision if threatened.
Many snakes can see, but not in full detail as other animals do. They do not possess powerful vision like eagles and hawks, and they rely on other senses to survive, primarily their senses of smell and their ability to feel vibrations on the ground.
List of Blind Snakes
Most blind snakes belong to the superfamily of Typhlopoidea. Many of them are non-venomous, and this puts them at a serious disadvantage.
Here are some examples of snakes that are blind or almost blind:
|Blind Snake||Scientific Name||Location||Conservation Status|
|Long-tailed blind snake||Ramphotyphlops||Southeast Asia||Least Concern|
|Palau blind snake||Ramphotyphlops acuticauda||Palau (Pacific Island)||Least Concern|
|Southern blindsnake||Rena unguirostris||South America||Least Concern|
|Christmas Island blind snake||Ramphotyphlops exocoeti||Christmas Island, Australia||Endangered|
|Richard’s blind snake||Antillotyphlops richardi||Caribbean Islands||Near Threatened|
|Puerto Rican coastal blind snake||Antillotyphlops hypomethes||Puerto Rico||Least Concern|
|Sulcate blind snake||Typhlops sulcatus||Dominican Republic and Haiti||Near Threatened|
What do Snakes See?
Some snakes can see details. The snakes that can see details typically hunt in the daytime. The light helps them to see, and they can adapt to the daylight environment.
However, snakes also have a built-in UV filter. It is the equivalent of a human wearing a pair of sunglasses. What it means for the snake, however, is they have clearer vision, not a darker one. The lens that processes the UV light in their eyes makes their eyes seem yellow.
Nocturnal snakes, on the other hand, have no UV filter.
As such, they cannot process light in the same manner as their daylight counterparts, and they’re not good at seeing during the day. Instead, they rely on their sense of smell to hunt.
However, many snakes have poor eyesight.
The lack of good eyesight is also a reason why they cannot recognize people. Furthermore, snakes are not smart enough to remember faces.
The snake’s lack of intelligence and eyesight means that the snake cannot recognize its owner.
Snakes only recognize owners because they can recognize their scents. If the owner’s smell is associated with food and peace, the snake will not get aggressive against the owner.
Can Snakes see Color?
Yes, snakes can see color, but not as humans do. Humans are trichromatic. What this means is that humans see three primary colors. These colors are red, blue, and green.
Snakes, however, are dichromatic. They can only see blue and green. Because of this, snakes are missing out on many colors in the color spectrum. However, they are sensitive to ultraviolet lights.
As a result of being dichromatic, snakes can see better than humans in low-light conditions.
In humans, dichromacy is an illness. In snakes, it is normal. Humans and trichromatic animals can see about 100 gradations of colors. If these color-detecting cones are independent of each other, a human can see a 1,000,000 different colors.
Snakes, however, can only see about 10,000 colors. This number is merely based on calculations, and there is not sufficient scientific evidence to back this up.
Some snakes, like the vipers, can track their prey with accuracy. They do this even if they are hunting in total darkness in the rainforest. They can do this because they have a unique heat sensor.
Do Snakes have Heat Sensor Vision like the Predator Alien?
Yes, the heat sensor of the snake is similar to that of the movie, Predator. However, not all snakes possess this kind of vision. Most of the ones who have this heat sensor are vipers.
Essentially, the vipers can convert heat signatures from organisms into electrical signals. As such, they could “see” their prey, even in total darkness. Some snakes can also see infrared.
Vipers and some python species have holes in their faces. These holes are called pit organs. They contain a special membrane that can detect radiation from warm bodies. The limit to this detection is one meter.
Because of this membrane, the vipers can “see” a heat silhouette of their prey. They can also “see an image” of predators that they should run away from.
This vision, however, is not clear. The viper does not see a detailed image of a mouse. Instead, it only sees a shape. The viper knows that the mouse is a living thing because the mouse is radiating heat. If the mouse is dead, the snake may ignore it.
Are There Blind Snakes?
Yes, there are blind snakes that are hatched that way. An example of this is the Indotyphlops braminus, the common name of which is the Brahminy blind snake. It is a non-venomous snake that lives in Africa and Asia.
The Brahminy is a fossorial snake, which means it burrows under the ground. It lives like an earthworm, and they are often mistaken as worms because of their small size. The Brahminy only grows up to four inches in length.
It has eyes, and the eyes have a covering of translucent sales. Their eyes cannot see images. However, the eyes can still process different intensities of light.
Are Blind Snakes Less Likely to Live?
Blindness has little impact on how snakes live. This study concluded that snakes could live a long and healthy life despite being blinded.
In this study, scientists focused their attention on tiger snakes on the coast of Western Australia. They found out that despite some of these adults having lost their vision due to fights, they continued to grow normally.
Their blindness has no relationship with growth. Many of the snakes grew longer than one meter. Their rates of survival were also normal within a 12-month period.
The study also showed that blind male snakes managed to find a mate and reproduce. The conclusion of the study is that blindness has no detectable effect on the tiger snake’s life prospects.
Related: Do Snakes Eat Ants?
Some snakes are blind, and some are not. However, most snakes have poor vision. If anything, their bonus is they can process UV lights, and this gives them an advantage. However, most nocturnal snakes cannot process UV lights.
Snakes use their super-sensitive sense of smell to survive. Their tongues can detect smell in the air, and they use it to compensate for their lack of clear vision.
Some snakes like vipers and pythons have a special membrane. It allows them to convert heat into electrical signals, which makes them see an “infrared” vision of their prey.