Ringed Caecilian Fact File
Their body is covered with glossy dark blue skin which is broken up by white rings running along its length. They are similar in appearance to earthworms but are amphibians.
While caring for their young the female turns a opaque whitish blue color and can be distinguished from the male. At other times the pair are visually similar.
At the end of the body is a short tail.
These animals lack limbs on the side of their body.
One of the unique features of the caecilians is the tentacles which are located below each eye. These help to locate and process chemical information which may assist with finding prey items.
A ringed caecilian will measure between 20 and 40cm (8 and 16in) long.
Ringed caecilians are carnivores. The majority of their diet is small insects such as worms.
Food is swallowed whole.
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South America is the native home of the ringed caecilian. Here they can be found in the following countries - Argentina; Bolivia; Brazil; Colombia; Ecuador; French Guiana; Peru and Venezuela.
They can be found on the ground among the humid soils of forests and open areas such as the Caatinga savanna. Some populations live in human inhabited areas such as rural gardens and plantations.
This species lays eggs and can carry out its lifecycle in the absence of water. The eggs are deposited in the soil and will hatch to resemble a miniature adult. Their large eggs are white with 5-16 per clutch. Females guard their eggs against predators and provide care once they hatch.
At hatching the young have specialized teeth which are used to scrape skin off the mother on which they feed. Often multiple young will fight over the same piece of skin. Feeding takes place for a short period and they then wait three days for the new outer layer to form.
This behavior is shared with a related species of caecilian in Africa and it is thought that this is an ancient method of parental care which has persisted for over 100 million years.
Body mass will more than double during the first week of life.
Ringed caecilians possess a venom gland in the mouth. It is thought that these can be used to subdue their prey.
Most of their time is spent in a burrow which they dig themselves underground. Their tentacles help to find their way through these underground areas. Mucous is produced from a gland near the head to help them move around.
Predators and Threats
When threatened they can produce a distasteful secretion to ward off the threat. Their skin is poisonous to other species. Rats and other amphibians have passed after ingesting the species or been paralyzed.
The IUCN list no major threats posed by humans to this species.
In some areas they may be confused with snakes and killed out of fear.
This species is otherwise known as the blind snake or South American caecilian.
The name caecilian comes from a Latin word for blind or hidden, "caecus" and is a reference to their habit of living underground.
Caecilians first emerged roughly 250 million years ago.
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