Tube Snakes: Have You Seen Them?

By M@
Tube Snakes: Have You Seen Them?

These mysterious serpents, dubbed greywyrms, are a rare but memorable sight on tube platforms.

The ashen snakes are unique to the London underground. They favour dank conditions and are usually found basking in puddles and mildewed corners. They live on a diet of tube mice, pooled water and salt and vinegar Hula Hoops.

Scientists believe that the snakes are descendants of the common adder. After centuries underground, the creatures have evolved to hunt by smell and sound alone. Their vestigial eyes are now completely blind.

Every tube line has its own distinct species of greywyrm. Serpents from the Circle line (shown above) are the least specialised and still resemble their adder ancestors. Researchers believe that exposure to open-air sections of the line has placed less selective pressure on the snakes, and so they have not evolved so far from ancestral stock.

The Northern line, by contrast, is populated by a highly divergent species. The bearded albino greywyrm (pictured above) has developed absorbent fronds to better extract nutrients from platform surface water. This variety is also much paler than its Circle line cousin. It has lost all pigmentation after centuries spent in dark tunnels. Note also the red breathing tubes — biological snorkels — which allow the greywyrm to spend prolonged periods submerged. Environmentalists fear that this species may become endangered, as Transport for London finds more efficient ways to pump ground water out of its tunnels.

It's believed that up to 15,000 greywyrms live across the Underground network. Even so, they are bashful creatures, rarely seen by the public and poorly understood by science. We'd like to make an appeal. If you spot one of these enigmatic animals on the tube, please take a photograph and share it in the comments below, or else email We would like to further document the natural history of these unique serpents before their numbers plummet further.

Last Updated 17 May 2018


Is this supposed to be funny?

Sandy Robertson

Never mind this - is it Laurel or Yanny ?!!!

Allie Kat

*checks calendar* it's not April 1...

Kelly Jadallah

This aint funny and whos daft idea!

Felicity Page

Ha, ha.

james whitburn

I've had it with these mother fuuking snakes on these mother fuuking trains

Siobhan Gibbons

Light hearted fun. Brilliant

The Doctor

Heh, cute.


This is just useless not funny

Charlotte Hamilton

Please do not mock these shy creatures. You may be able to encourage them from their quiet corner by rustling a Macdonald's paper wrapping. Good luck spotting.

Ahmes Syahda

I've seen those in my backyard a couple times. They often hang around my faucet.

Asparagus Tips

Light hearted fun maybe but to people with autism this can be quite drastic and can be taken quite seriously as literal. The Londonist should know better than to target minority groups. Evil.

Robert Thorpe

I don't believe this is supposed to be funny. I believe the writer of the piece is making a statement about how poorly cleaned the underground is. Its like a protest!

Andrew Gwilt

I think its good. Random and funny but very interesting. Even though I don't like snakes lol.

John Klein

makes a change to the usual Londonist articles which just repeat the same thing over and over just with a different heading and writer's name at the top and the photos jumbled up to make it look new .how many times do we need to see the same photos of old London for example .


This is one of the worst things I've ever read. Jesus.

maleda tek

I can't lie. I believed it all until I saw the comments. Whoever wrote this has a brilliant imagination

Mr Braithwaite

If I could afford to use the tube I might be able to help.