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Ringed Caecilian Fact File

Appearance

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.

Diet

Ringed caecilians are carnivores. The majority of their diet is small insects such as worms.

Food is swallowed whole.

ringed caecilian

Scientific Name

Siphonops annulatus

Conservation Status

Least Concern

Length

20-40cm (8-16in)

Lifespan

1 years

Diet

Carnivorous

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Range

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.

Habitat

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.

ringed caecilian

Reproduction

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.

Behavior

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

Natural predators of the ringed caecilian may include ants, snakes and burrowing mammals.

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.

Quick facts

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.

ringed caecilian

Photo Credits

Top

By Dias, I – Dias I, Medeiros T, Vila Nova M, Solé M (2014) Amphibians of Serra Bonita, southern Bahia: a new hotpoint within Brazil’s Atlantic Forest hotspot. ZooKeys 449: 105-130. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.449.7494, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=72026022

Middle

© Vincent A. Vos – Own Work – CC-BY-NC from https://www.inaturalist.org/photos/12319740

Bottom

© martincardenas – Own Work – CC-BY-NC – https://www.inaturalist.org/photos/113100856

References

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

IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group. 2014. Siphonops annulatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T59593A43784684. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2014-1.RLTS.T59593A43784684.en. Downloaded on 13 March 2021.

Insideecology.com. 2021. Caecilians – unusual reproductive ecology – Inside Ecology. [online] Available at: <https://insideecology.com/2018/12/27/caecilians-unusual-reproductive-ecology/> [Accessed 13 March 2021].

Gonefroggin.com. 2021. Ringed Caecilian (Siphonops annulatus) –. [online] Available at: <https://gonefroggin.com/2018/01/14/ringed-caecilian-siphonops-annulatus/> [Accessed 13 March 2021].

iNaturalist. 2021. Ringed Caecilian (Siphonops annulatus). [online] Available at: <https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/28051-Siphonops-annulatus> [Accessed 13 March 2021].

Animals.sandiegozoo.org. 2021. Caecilian | San Diego Zoo Animals & Plants. [online] Available at: <https://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/caecilian> [Accessed 13 March 2021].

Sci News. 2021. Researchers Find Snake-Like Venom Glands in Caecilian Amphibians. [online] Available at: <http://www.sci-news.com/biology/caecilian-venom-glands-08603.html> [Accessed 13 March 2021].

AmphibiaWeb 2020 Siphonops annulatus: Ringed Caecilian <http://amphibiaweb.org/species/1939> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Mar 12, 2021.

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