Herpelidae – African caecilians

Native to Central and East Africa; classified as a family in 1984 and closely related to newly found family Chikilidae

These fascinating creatures, often referred to as Striped caecilians inhabit sub-Saharan Africa, a region known for its rich biodiversity.

Herpelidae members are generally modest in size, with most individuals measuring up to 35 cm in length. Their slender bodies are well-suited for their subterranean lifestyle. While they might not be the most visually conspicuous animals, these caecilians possess distinctive features that set them apart.

One of the notable characteristics of Herpelidae is their external resemblance to snakes. They share a pointed snout, small eyes, and an absence of limbs, creating an appearance that often leads to confusion with their legless reptilian counterparts. However, careful observation reveals their unique traits, including a characteristic pattern of dark bars adorning their light-colored skin. An eye-like spot adds to their distinctive appearance at the end of their tails.

Despite their inconspicuous nature, Herpelidae can be found in a variety of habitats. They adapt to diverse environments, ranging from the lush tropical forests of equatorial Africa to the subtropical and temperate regions of the continent. Their adaptability is a testament to their resilience in the face of changing ecological conditions.

Their diet primarily consists of earthworms, slugs, and various other small invertebrates. By regulating the populations of these invertebrates, Herpelidae contribute to the overall balance of their ecosystems. Additionally, their burrowing activities help aerate the soil, distribute nutrients, and create a hospitable environment for other organisms.