Cayenne Caecilian Fact File

Typhlonectes compressicauda

Credit: User:Haplochromis, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons








Wild 5 years

Captive 5 years



Invertebrates, Fish

Conservation Status


Least Concern

The cayenne caecilian is a species of fully aquatic amphibian which is found in parts of South America.

They are carnivores which will feed on invertebrates, frog larvae and eggs and fish.

Young hatch from their eggs inside their mother and will spend the first part of their larval stage here. They feed initially on the yolk from their egg and then on the mothers uterine wall.

The main threat to these animals is becoming trapped in fishing nets.

Read on to learn more about these amazing amphibians.


What does the Cayenne caecilian look like?

The cayenne caecilian has a smooth body which is slender and a glossy black color. Running along the top of the body is a slight fin. On the underside it is dark grey. Running around the body are 80-95 well defined rings.

At the end of the body is a tail which is flattened like a paddle which helps to push them through the water.

An average individual of this species will measure 30-60cm (12-23.5in) long.


What does the Cayenne caecilian eat?

These animals are primarily carnivores. They will seek out aquatic insects and larvae, fish along with frog tadpoles and eggs.

Juveniles have regularly been recorded with decaying plant matter in their stomachs.


Where can you find the Cayenne caecilian?

South America is the native home of the Cayenne caecilian. Here they can be found in the following countries – Brazil; Colombia; French Guiana; Guyana; Peru and Venezuela.

Their current status in Bolivia and Suriname is unknown.


What kind of environment does the Cayenne caecilian live in?

These animals are almost entirely aquatic. They will spend their life in rivers, lakes or streams. These are primarily located in lowland forests. Individuals move around similar to eels.

They will burrow in to mud on the side of rivers.

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How does the Cayenne caecilian produce its young?

Eggs will hatch inside the female and the larvae spend some time developing inside her body. She will then give birth to miniature adults.

While the young are developing inside their mother they will initially depend on their yolk. These animals will then feed on uterine wall secretions and the embryos of their dead siblings once they deplete the yolk.

At birth the young are equipped with gills which are attached dorsally. With 24-48 hours of birth these will fall off.


What does the Cayenne caecilian do with its day?

These animals are entirely aquatic bust must breathe at the surface as adults. In one observation an individual remained fully submerged for 1.5 hours.

This species will forage at night.

Cayenne Caecilian

Credit: User:Haplochromis, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Predators and Threats

What is impacting the survival of the Cayenne caecilian?

Natural predators of the Cayenne caecilian include fish.

If attacked by a predator these animals can produce a toxic secretion.

This species is considered common but a current population trend has not been established.

These animals have been recorded to become caught in fishing nets when they approach this to find food.

Quick facts

This species was first described for western science in 1841.


Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK

Jackson, T. and Chinery, M., 2012. The illustrated encyclopedia of animals of the world. London: Southwater.

Enrique La Marca, Claudia Azevedo-Ramos, Marinus Hoogmoed, Mark Wilkinson, John Measey. 2010. Typhlonectes compressicaudaThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T59599A11959503. Downloaded on 04 November 2021.

AmphibiaWeb 2021 Typhlonectes compressicauda <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Nov 3, 2021. 2021. Cayenne caecilian (Typhlonectes compressicauda) longevity, ageing, and life history. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 4 November 2021].

Adam, V., 2021. Cayenne Caecilian (Typhlonectes compressicauda) –. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 4 November 2021].

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