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im pretty sure it was a snake as i dont think legless lizards exist in that area
here is the description:

it was v.thin about 1cm wide max, also quite short in length about 20cm.
it had blackish eyes, and was dark red to brown in colour. it was sitting on the bottom section of a door, when i approached it, it went outside through a gap, also note it was raining heavily outside (around december time)
could this be a baby snake? i would be very grateful if anyone could give me an idea of what snake this was.

p.s. i also saw a headless snake like creature moving slowly across the road, i think this could have been a caecilian from looking at pictures
 

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Whereabouts in East Africa?

I've got a handy book "The Pocket Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of East Africa" - you might want to see if you can get hold of a copy. The ISBN is 0713674253

(there's also another book around, which I don't have, called "A Photographic Guide to Snakes, other Reptiles and Amphibians of East Africa" The ISBN for that is: 1770071504)

Size-wise (assuming not a hatchling) the only thing I can find that might be as thin as you describe is the Cape-Centipede-Eater (Aparallactus capensis) which is very thin, grows up to 30 cms long, has a dark head and brown body. It mostly lives underground but does come up in the rain. Its got quite a limited range though, along the Tanzanian coast and inland to Mt Kilimanjaro.

I would think you'd have noticed the dark head though, so hmmm

http://www.kzoo.edu/pfolio/example/jenks/images/capesnakepic.jpg

Another possibility is the Dwarf Sand Snake (Psammophis angolensis) which is a thin snake that grows up to 50 cms. It has some black crossbars just behind its head though, which you probably would have noticed. Its found throughout most of Tanzania is grassland and savanna.

http://www.bushveld.co.za/pictures-of-reptiles/pygmy-sand-snake.jpg

There's plenty of other brown/reddish brown snakes, but they are all too big, both lengthwise, but more particularly widthwise. 1cm is very thin

Perhaps though, it was as you said a juvenile snake or maybe a blind or worm snake? (although hmm, you probably wouldn't have been able to see the eyes on those clearly as they are so small)


BTW - I am by no means an expert, I am literally reading this out of the book...
 
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