Scolecomorphidae – Tropical caecilians

Also called buried-eyed caecilians due to their vestigial eyes, attached underneath the snout

This family comprises some of the most robust amphibians on the planet, making their homes in Cameroon, Malawi, and Tanzania. These amphibians come in various sizes, falling into the small to medium range. What sets them apart is their unique features, including a recessed mouth, tentacle-like structures on their snouts, and eyes located at the base of these tentacles.

Their distinctive adaptations make them well-suited for burrowing and life in subterranean environments. They thrive in moist soil rich in organic matter, where they hunt for tiny insects, worms, and other invertebrates residing on the earth. In doing so, they contribute significantly to the health of soil ecosystems.

One remarkable trait of these amphibians is their ability to thrive even in arid environments. They possess specialized skin glands that allow them to absorb moisture from the air, enabling them to survive in the driest conditions.

But these amphibians are more than just survivors; they are ecosystem engineers. Through their tunneling activities, they mix and aerate the soil, redistributing nutrients and creating a hospitable environment for various other organisms. Their role in the ecosystem is vital, as they enhance soil health and support the diversity of life in their habitat.