Gymnoph’ – Caecilians

Limbless, serpentine amphibians distributed in the tropics of South and Central America, Africa, and southern Asia

These amazing amphibians are not even widely known to exist!

Though that makes sense given that people hardly ever see caecilians because they lead extremely secretive lives in burrows or under the water. They lack limbs and may resemble eels or earthworms, depending on whether they are terrestrial or aquatic. Due to their weak vision, they mostly rely on their sense of smell to locate food and partners. Their skin is moist and may have ring-like marks around their body, like all amphibians.

Caecilians possess moist skin, a characteristic shared with other amphibians, and their bodies may feature ring-like marks. These markings, along with their unique physiology, contribute to their distinctive appearance. While their diet includes termites, insects, and vegetative waste, specific dietary preferences can vary among species, and much remains to be discovered about their eating habits.

One of the remarkable features of caecilians is the presence of sensory tentacles, which are situated between their eyes and nostrils. These tentacles house specialized cells with a highly developed capacity for detecting chemical cues in their environment. These chemosensory cells play a crucial role in the caecilians’ sensory perception, enabling them to sense and interpret chemical signals in their surroundings.

Only 25% of the Gymnophiona species we know about are oviparous (egg-laying); the rest are viviparous (give birth to live young).