An adult Texas Threadsnake from Clark County. Image by Lisa Wehrly.
An adult Texas Threadsnake from Barber County, Kansas. Image by Jeff Weinell (iNat: jeffweinell). iNat Obs. #12922481.
An adult Texas Threadsnake from Barber County, Kansas. Image by Deanna Douglas (iNat: deannadouglas). iNat Obs. #8375985.
REPTILIA (Reptiles) SQUAMATA (PART) (Snakes) LEPTOTYPHLOPIDAE (Threadsnakes)

Texas Threadsnake
Rena dulcis (Cope 1896)
rē-nă — dŭl-cĭs


Conservation Status:

State: Kansas Threatened Species

Federal: None
NatureServe State: S3 - Vulnerable
NatureServe National: N4 - Apparently Secure
NatureServe Global: G4 - Apparently Secure
CITES: None
Diagnosis:
The Texas Threadsnake is characterized by belly scales that are the same size as the scales on its upper body. The eyes of this subterranean reptile are tiny black dots. Texas Threadsnakes are a uniform pinkish tan color. Males have slightly longer tails than females. Tail very short and blunt. Young look like miniature adults.
Adults normally 12.5-20.3 cm (5-8 inches) in total length. The largest specimen from Kansas is a female (KU 206223) from Clark County with a total length of 27.0 cm (10¼ inches) collected by Larry Miller on 7 June 1986. The maximum length throughout range is 29.2 cm (11½ inches) (Boundy, 1995; Powell et al., 2016).

Distribution:
This taxon is known from the Permian Prairie and Cimarron Plains. Spends its entire life below ground; occasionally emerges on the ground surface after being washed out by heavy rain. It can sometimes be located by lifting large rocks. Breeding probably occurs in spring but is less dependent than most other snakes on temperature and rainfall because it lives beneath the surface.
(,   Museum Voucher) (,   Observation) (,   Literature Record) (,   iNat Record), (  Fossil)
Open icons are questionable records; Click on a marker to view details.
Full range depicted by light shaded red area. Export Google Earth (.kml)
  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 112
    Records 
  • 95
    Museum Vouchers 
  • 17
    Other Observations 
Some county occurrences indicated below may be too imprecise to map above.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences):
Barber (25); Clark (26); Comanche (8); Kiowa (3); Meade (28); Morton (10); Seward (6); Sumner (6);

Fossil History:
Not known from Kansas.

Natural History:
Texas Threadsnakes are secretive creatures that frequent ant burrows. They prefer moist areas and sometimes are found in loose soil or sand beneath rocks. Nothing is known of the annual activity cycle of this snake in Kansas. According to Smith (1956), this species is nocturnal and most active each evening between 2000 and 2030 hours. At night, its preferred air temperature ranges from 78° to 82°F, but this snake will become active at 64°F or higher.
Rundquist (1978) reported on an aggregation of eleven Texas Threadsnakes discovered by Richard Plumlee, Kelly Irwin, and Larry Miller under a single thin, flat limestone rock in Clark County on 14 May 1977. An additional 8 specimens were discovered singly (or in pairs) under similar rocks with 20 m of the observation initially described. The reason for the social aggregation is unknown. Rundquist (1998) reported finding a likely male-female pair under the same limestone rock in Barber County on 24 May 1997. Miller (1987) reported finding Texas Threadsnakes in moist soil beneath rocks in Kansas from 3 May to 7 June; his observations, often made after rainfall, took place from Sumner County west to Morton County in the southwestern corner of the state.
Because of its subterranean habits, nothing is known of courtship and mating in this snake in Kansas. Hibbard (1964), working in Meade County, observed that females brood their eggs in small colonies within cavities beneath the ground at depths of 45.7-76.2 cm (18- 30 inches). Two females at one colony had clutches of five and six eggs each. He discovered both clutches plus pregnant females during July.
Texas Threadsnakes feed on ant eggs and termites (Collins, 1993).
This creature uses an interesting defensive technique to withstand attacks by ants. If bitten or attacked, it assumes a ball-like coil and writhes, smearing cloaca) fluid over its body; the fluid repels further ant attacks.

Occurrence Activity:
Number of Unique Obervations (=days): 47; Range: 15 Apr to 06 Sep
Remarks:
First reported from Kansas by Burt (1935) based on a specimen collected by a "Mr. Rogers" as it was crossing a sidewalk between two oil stations in the town of Lake City, Barber County, on 2 August 1934 just after dark. Burt (op. cit.) added that several other examples were reported from 2 miles north of Lake City on 27 May 1934, two of these specimens (USNM99821-2) are the earliest existing from from Kansas.
Miller (1987) studied this snake in southwest Kansas and reports several new localities including the easternmost in Sumner County. He also relayed reports from Marty Capron of Texas Threadsnakes being discovered in Cowley County between Arkansas City and Winfield, however, no specimens currently exist.
Little is known of the habitat requirements of this taxon in Kansas. It is most frequently discovered under rocks associated with the Permian Nippewalla Group and the Tertiary Ogallala Formation. However, several records have been taken from areas well away from outcropping or surface cover, as they came to the surface following spring and summer thunderstorms. Additionally, specimens have been unearthed in residential gardens.
Burt (1935) reported that on August 2, 1934, Cornelius Rogers found a specimen crossing a sidewalk between two oil stations in the town of Lake City, where the individual was reportedly making its way toward the moderately moist sandy soil in a roadside iris bed. The time of capture was just after dark and the specimen was observed under an electric light. Burt (op. cit.) reported that several other examples were found 2 miles north of Lake City on May 27, 1934.
Listed as a Kansas Threatened species in 1987. Platt et al. (1974) recommended discontinued use of pesticides and limited mining in areas where this snake occurs. Predators of this reptile include other snakes, birds, and small mammals. No recovery plan has been completed for this species.
As defined by Kansas Administrative Regulations, critical habitats include those areas documented as currently supporting self-sustaining population(s) of any threatened or endangered species of wildlife as well as those areas determined by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism to be essential for the conservation of any threatened or endangered species of wildlife.
The following counties contain critical habitat for the Texas Threadsnake: Barber, Clark, Comanche, Harper, Kiowa, Meade, Morton, and Sumner.
Dixon and Vaughan (2003) in recognizing R. dissecta as a separate species from R. myopica. These authors based the recognition of these as two separate taxa primarily on their supposed differences in dorsal color, pinkish in R. dissecta and brown to black in R. myopica. Klauber (1940) reports specimens of R. dissecta ranging from pale to medium brown. Flores-Villela et al. (2022) have examined additional specimens of R. dissecta not seen by Dixon and Vaughan (2003), and they observed grey (e.g., UTA R-54613) and brown (UTA R-45091) dorsal colors. They also observed pinkish (UTA R-3149) and medium brown (UTA R-54555) specimens of R. myopica from Nuevo León and Tamaulipas, respectively. The number of middorsal scales was also stated by Dixon and Vaughan (2003) as significant in differentiating these taxa. Examination of additional material considerably expands the lower limit in the range of these scales for R. dissecta, from 220 to 213, providing considerable overlap between R. dissecta and R. myopica. Based on the lack of differences between the two taxa, Flores-Villela et al. (2022) consider R. dissecta a junior synonym of R. dulcis (see their Table 2).

Bibliography:
1935 Burt, Charles E. Further records of the ecology and distribution of amphibians and reptiles in the middle west. American Midland Naturalist 16(3):311-366
1936 Brumwell, Malcolm J. Distributional records of the reptilia and amphibians of Kansas. Privately printed, . 22pp.
County dot maps of the Kansas herpetofauna. This work has been attributed to have been written around 1933, but that may be in error. 
Hypsiglena jani was not known from Kansas until Claude W. Hibbard collected three specimens on the Stevenson Ranch in north-central Clark County (above Clark State Lake) during June 1936 (Hibbard, 1937). Brumwell plotted this locality, which leads me to believe that the 1936 would have been the earliest date this manuscript could have been written.
1937 Hibbard, Claude W. Hypsiglena ochrorhynchus in Kansas and additional notes on Leptotyphlops dulcis. Copeia 1937(1):74
1939 Tihen, Joseph A. and James M. Sprague. Amphibians, reptiles, and mammals of the Meade County State Park Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 42():499-512
1940 Klauber, Laurence M. The worm snakes of the genus Leptotyphlops in the United States and northern Mexico. Transactions of the San Diego Society of Natural History 9(18):87-160
1941 Schmidt, Karl Peterson and D. D. Davis. Field Book of Snakes of the United States and Canada. C.P. Putnam and Sons, New York. 365pp.
1950 Smith, Hobart M. Handbook of Amphibians and Reptiles of Kansas. University of Kansas, Museum of Natural History, Miscellaneous Publication (2):336
The first modern herpetology of Kansas. Includes locality dot maps within individual species accounts. Reports 96 species from Kansas (table and text say 97 on p. 10) and 13 "probable but unverified" species and subspecies.
1952 Smith, Hobart M. and Ottys Sanders. Distributional data on Texan amphibians and reptiles. Texas Journal of Science 4(2):204-219
1953 Schmidt, Karl P. A Check List of North American Amphibians and Reptiles. 6th Edition. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois. 280pp.
Schmidt's first edition of his standardized checklist to North American amphibians and reptiles. Includes several specific references to Kansas in the range descriptions.
1955 Brown, Bryce C. The Herpetology of the Coastal Prairie Region of Texas. Dissertation. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan. 238pp.
1956 Smith, Hobart M. Handbook of Amphibians and Reptiles of Kansas. Second edition. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Miscellaneous Publication (9):1-356
Hobart M. Smith's updated second edition of his first (1950) modern herpetology of Kansas. Includes locality dot maps within individual species accounts. Reports 96 species from Kansas (table says 97 on p. 10; text says 98 on p. 10) and 11 "probable but unverified" species and subspecies. The second edition has updated taxonomy, added Plestiodon laticeps, and removed Eurycea tynerensis.
1964 Hibbard, Claude W. A brooding colony of the blind snake, Leptotyphlops dulcis dissecta Cope. Copeia 1964(1):222
1970 Fitch, Henry S. Reproductive cycles in lizards and snakes. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Miscellaneous Publication (52):1-247
1973 Knight, James L., Eugene D. Fleharty, and Jerry D. Johnson. Noteworthy records of distribution and habits of some Kansas herptiles. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 75(3):273-275
1974 Collins, Joseph T. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Public Education Series (1):283 pp
Joseph T. Collins first Kansas herpetology. <Need to get species total and principal differences with previous 'version' (= Smith 1956)>
1974 Platt, Dwight R., Joseph T. Collins, and Ray E. Ashton, Jr. Rare, endangered and extirpated species in Kansas. II. Amphibians and reptiles. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 76(3):185-192
The initial initiative to determine population and conservation status of Kansas' amphibians and reptiles based on our understanding at the time. A lot has changed regarding our increased knowledge on all the listed species.
1974 Karns, Daryl, Ray E. Ashton, Jr., and Thomas Swearingen. Illustrated Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas: An Identification Manual. University of Kansas Publications Museum of Natural History Public Education Series(2):viii + 18
1976 Rundquist, Eric M. Field checklist (of) amphibians and reptiles of Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society, Lawrence. pp.
1976 Ashton, Ray E., Jr., Stephen R. Edwards, and George R. Pisani. Endangered and threatened amphibians and reptiles in the United States. Herpetological Circulars (5):65
1977 Perry, Janice. Kansas herps needed. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (18):2-3
List of Kansas amphibians and reptiles desired for the SSAR/HL meeting to be held 7-13 August 1977.
1977 Grow, David. Clark County visited by the Society. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (19):1-2
1978 Rundquist, Eric M., Eddie Stegall, David Grow, and Peter Gray. New herpetological records from Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science (81):73-77
Reports on new population discoveries of five species for which information was lacking at the time.
1978 Collins, Joseph T. and Janalee P. Caldwell. New records of fishes, amphibians, and reptiles in Kansas for 1977. Technical Publication of the State Biological Survery of Kansas 6():70-88
1979 Hahn, Donald E. Leptotyphlopidae, Leptotyphlops. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (230):1-4
1979 Hahn, Donald E. Leptotyphlops dulcis. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (231):1-2
1982 Collins, Joseph T. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas. 2nd edition. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Public Education Series (8):
Joseph T. Collins second Kansas herpetology. <Need to get species total and principal differences with previous 'version' (= Collins 1974)>
1982 Irwin, Kelly J. Geographic distribution: Leptotyphlops dulcis dissectus. Herpetological Review 13():82
1983 Mulvany, P. S. Blind snakes of the United States, their natural history with a discussion of climate and physiography as limiting factors to their range. Bulletin of the Oklahoma Herpetological Society 8(1):2-45
1983 Collins, Joseph T. New records of fishes, amphibians, and reptiles in Kansas for 1982 . Technical Publication of the State Biological Survey of Kansas 13():9-21
1984 Secor, Stephen M. and Charles C. Carpenter. Distribution maps of Oklahoma reptiles. Oklahoma Herpetological Society Special Publication (3):1-57
1986 Layher, William G., Ken L. Brunson, J.Schaefer, Marvin D. Schwilling, and R. D. Wood. Summary of nongame task force actions relative to developing three species lists: Species in Need of Conservation, Threatened, and Endangered. Kansas Fish and Game Commission, Pratt. 27pp.
1986 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 1986. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (66):9-16
1987 Miller, Larry L. An investigation of four rare snakes in south-central Kansas. Final Report. Kansas Wildlife and Parks Commission, Pratt. 24pp.
1988 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 1987. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (71):13-19
1988 Busby, William H. The Kansas Natural Heritage Program: Taking stock of Kansas' natural heritage. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (71):9-12
1989 Simmons, John E. Endangered and threatened in Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (75):4-5
1989 Capron, Marty B. Threatened and endangered: A critique of the Kansas list. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (76):14-15
1990 Lardie, Richard L. Kansas threatened species and protection of the Gypsum Hills habitat. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (80):14-15
1990 Collins, Joseph T. Maximum size records for Kansas amphibians and reptiles. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (81):13-17
1991 Conant, Roger and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. 3rd ed. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. pp.
1991 Collins, Joseph T. and Suzanne L. Collins. Reptiles and Amphibians of the Cimarron National Grasslands, Morton County, Kansas. U. S. Forest Service, Elkhart, Kansas. 60pp.
1992 Long, D. R. Blind snakes. Reptile & Amphibian Magazine (November-December):14-19
1993 Collins, Joseph T. and Suzanne L. Collins. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas. Third Edition. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Lawrence. 397pp.
Joseph T. Collins third Kansas herpetology. <Need to get species total and principal differences with previous 'version' (= Collins 1982)>
1993 Smith, Hobart M. and David Chiszar. Apparent intergradation in Texas between the subspecies of the Texas Blind Snake (Leptotyphlops dulcis). Bulletin of the Maryland Herpetological Society 29(4):143-155
1996 Rundquist, Eric M. Results of the eighth annual KHS herp counts Held 1 April-31 May 1996. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (104):6-17
1996 Rakestraw, J. Spring herp counts: A Kansas tradition. Reptile & Amphibian Magazine (March-April):75-80
1997 Rundquist, Eric M. Results of the ninth annual KHS herp counts held 1 April-31 May 1997. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (108):12-17
1997 Rundquist, Eric M. KHS Spring Field Trips. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (108):3
1998 Conant, Roger and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. 3rd ed, expanded. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. pp.
1998 Powell, Robert, Joseph T Collins, and Errol D Hooper Jr. A Key to Amphibians & Reptiles of the Continental United States and Canada. Univ Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. 131pp.
1998 Rundquist, Eric M. Blind snake reproductive activity. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (111):16-17
1999 Rundquist, Eric M. Kansas Herpetological Society herp counts: A 10 year summary and evaluation. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (115):42962
1999 Lardie, Richard L., Doyle Lynn Crosswhite, and Jeffery T. Burkhart. Leptotyphlops dulcis dulcis (Texas Blind Snake). Herpetological Review 30(2):113
2000 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 1999. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (119):7-9
2000 Rundquist, Eric M. Results of the eleventh and twelfth annual KHS herpetofaunal counts for 1999-2000, held 1 April-31 May. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (122):11-16
2000 Moeller, Derek, Allie Kossoy, Whitney Hamilton, and Larry L. Miller. Geographic distribution. Leptotyphlops dulcis. Herpetological Review 31(1):56
2002 Kingsbury, Bruce and Joanna Gibson. Habitat Management Guidelines for Amphibians and Reptiles of the Midwest. Publication of Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, Address not given. 152pp.
2002 Taggart, Travis W. and Curtis J. Schmidt. Geographic distribution: Leptotyphlops dulcis. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (2):10
2002 Rundquist, Eric M. Natural history of the Night Snake, Hypsiglena torquata, in Kansas. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (4):16-20
2003 Dixon, J. R., and R. K. Vaughan. The status of Mexican and southwestern United States blind snakes allied with Leptotyphlops dulcis (Serpentes: Leptotyphlopidae) Texas Journal of Science 55(1):3-24
Specimens examined from Kansas as follows: Clark County (KU 20206),  Meade County (KU 20207).
2006 Taggart, Travis W. Distribution and status of Kansas herpetofauna in need of information. State Wildlife Grant T7. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt. vii + 106pp.
2009 Adalsteinsson, Solny. A., William R. Branch, Sebastien Trape, Laurie J. Vitt, and S. Blair Hedges. Molecular phylogeny, classification, and biogeography of snakes of the family Leptotyphlopidae (Reptilia, Squamata). Zootaxa 2009(2244):18264
2010 Collins, Joseph T., Suzanne L. Collins, and Travis W. Taggart. Amphibians, Reptiles, and Turtles of Kansas Eagle Mountain Publishing., Provo, Utah. 400pp.
Joseph T. Collins fourth Kansas herpetology. <Need to get species total and principal differences with previous 'version' (= Collins 1993)>
2012 Rohweder, Megan R. Spatial conservation prioritization of Kansas for terrestrial vertebrates. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 151pp.
2012 Powell, Robert, Joseph T Collins, and Errol D Hooper Jr. Key to the Herpetofauna of the Continental United States and Canada: Second Edition, Revised and Updated. Univ Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. 152pp.
2013 Taggart, Travis W. KHS 2013 Summer Field Trip to Coldwater Lake, Comanche County. Collinsorum 2(3/4):5
2014 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the 2014 KHS Spring Field Trip to Barber County Collinsorum 3(2-4):11
2014 Taggart, Travis W. Recent scientific and standard English name changes effecting the Kansas herpetofauna. Collinsorum 3(2-4):9-10
2015 Rohweder, Megan R. Kansas Wildlife Action Plan. Ecological Services Section, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism in cooperation with the Kansas Biological Survey. 176pp.
2016 Powell, Robert, Roger Conant, and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston. 494pp.
2016 Taggart, Travis W. Spring 2016 KHS field trip to Clark County was a soggy success. Collinsorum 5(2-3):2-3
2017 Crother, Brian I. (editor) Scientific and Standard English Names of Amphibians and Reptiles of North America North of Mexico, with Comments Regarding Confidence in Our Understanding. Eighth edition. Herpetological Circulars (43):1-102
2019 Powell, Robert, Joseph T Collins, and Errol D Hooper Jr. Key to the Herpetofauna of the Continental United States and Canada. Third Edition. Univ Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. 192pp.
2020 Riedle, J. Daren. Revisiting Kansas Herpetological Society field trip and Herp Count data: Distributional patterns and trend data of Kansas amphibians and reptiles. Collinsorum 9(1):7-16
2020 Davenport, Norma, Joe Ehrenberger, Kelly Triece, Sean McMullen, and Hunter Johnson. Geographic distribution: Rena dissecta: Colorado. Herpetological Review 51(2):275
2021 Taggart, Travis W and Sarah L Taggart. Herp Count: Morton County: KHS-2020-12. Collinsorum 9(3):13
2022 Flores-Villela, Oscar A., Eric N. Smith, Luis Canseco_Marquez, and Jonathan A. Campbell. A new species of blindsnake from Jalisco, Mexico (Squamata: Leptotyphlopidae). Revista Mexicana de Biodiversidad (93):12
2023 Russell, Elisabeth Habitat associations and fine-scale movements of the Red-spotted Toad (Anaxyrus punctatus) in Kansas and the efficacy of remote telemetry for monitoring small-scale movements. Thesis. Fort Hays STate University, Hays, Kansas. 81pp.
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Travis W. Taggart © 1999-2024 — w/ Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Fort Hays State University