Planet Earth II Captures The World's Smallest Snake On Camera


Robin Andrews

Science & Policy Writer

Peekaboo! The Martinique thread snake. BBC Earth via Twitter

Everyone loves Planet Earth II, a soaring documentary that has just started airing on the BBC. From silly, sluggish sloths to seeing David Attenborough wax lyrically about life from a hot air balloon, it contains everything viewers learned to love from its prequel, which aired about ten years ago.

The standout sequence from the first episode was, indubitably, the chase scene between the marine iguana hatchlings and the racer snakes. As a result of this thrilling – and slightly traumatizing – sequence, many people today really aren’t the world’s biggest fans of snakes. However, a brand new clip from the BBC’s Natural History Unit may make you change your mind.


Rare footage has been captured of one of the world’s smallest snakes, which has been described by the BBC as “slim as spaghetti and shorter than a pencil.” Filmed on the Caribbean Island of Martinique, the 10-centimeter-long (3.9 inches) thread snake spends much of its time beneath the ground hiding from harm – understandable, given its ludicrously small size.


Competition for food on this island is incredibly fierce, and larger beasts hunt down larger animals for nutrition. This small snake would never be able to keep up with these sizeable critters, but fortunately, there is an abundant food source that is just right for its size: ants and termites.

Sneaking into one of their nests this hungry predator gobbles plenty of them up in seconds. It tends to go after the eggs and larvae, which, of course, have no means of defending themselves. Unless you’re a particularly ardent fan of ants or termites, then it’s hard not to agree that this little slithering serpent is ridiculously cute.

There’s a good chance that the Martinique thread snake is actually the smallest snake in the world. Just recently, this was thought to be the Barbados thread snake, a close evolutionary cousin, which can fit onto an American penny when coiled up.


Catching footage of such a minuscule monster is incredibly difficult, to say the least. The fact that they have is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the BBC’s Natural History Unit.


Viewers can catch the next episode, “Mountains,” on BBC One on November 13.

[H/T: BBC]


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