Ichthyophiidae – Fish caecilians

Also named Asiatic tailed caecilians are a primitive family, and the only caecilians with true tails & scales on their bodies

The majority of these caecilians are adept burrowers living underground in a network of tunnels. One of their most striking features is their long, slender bodies, which resemble earthworms. They lack limbs, making their bodies well-suited for burrowing through the soil. These amphibians have evolved to be exceptional diggers, using their specialized skulls to penetrate soft earth efficiently.

Living primarily underground, their need for sight and hearing is greatly reduced, resulting in some species having tiny eyes, while others have concealed their eyes beneath layers of skin or bone, leaving only subtle, gray lumps as remnants.

As with many caecilians, Asiatic tailed caecilians exhibit remarkable maternal care. After giving birth, mother Asiatic tailed caecilians develop a specialized outer layer of skin rich in essential nutrients, particularly fat. Over several weeks, this unique skin becomes a vital source of nourishment for their offspring. The baby Asiatic tailed caecilians have adapted with modified teeth, which they use to peel off and consume this nutrient-rich maternal skin. This fascinating behavior highlights the incredible strategies these amphibians have evolved to ensure the survival of their young.