Chikilidae – Indian caecilians

Most recent (2012) family of caecilians to be identified, although the type species, Chikila fulleri, was first described in 1904

The most primitive family of caecilians. This family is made up of caecilians from India. It is the 10th and most recent family of Caecilians to be named. It is also known as “Northeast Indian Caecilians.” As the name suggests, they are found exclusively in the Northeast Indian region, and their members are among the most primitive caecilians known to date.

Chikilidae typically reach a length of around 4 inches (10 cm) in adulthood. Their vision is extremely limited, and they possess specialized skulls that are well-suited for burrowing underground. Interestingly, they undergo direct development, with no distinct larval stage in their life cycle.

Remarkably, the mothers of these caecilians display exceptional dedication. They wrap themselves around their developing eggs, providing protection and care for an extended period of two to three months. During this devoted maternal period, it appears that the mothers do not engage in eating at all, prioritizing the well-being of their developing offspring.

Chikilidae caecilians are also exceptional burrowers, experts at navigating the subterranean world with their elongated bodies. Another intriguing feature is the presence of tentacles, a rare trait among caecilians, which adds to their distinctiveness.

Their subterranean existence makes them sensitive to changes in their environment. Human activities like deforestation, expanding agriculture, and urban development pose a significant threat to their limited habitat.