Range:

Central Africa, Southeast Asia, and southern Mexico to Argentina

Habitat:

Loose soil and ground litter in tropical forests, or in rivers or streams

Legless amphibians

Caecilians (pronounced seh-SILL-yens) are tropical amphibians that look like large worms or slick snakes. They have no arms or legs, and sometimes it’s hard to tell which end is the head and which is the tail! Their shiny skin is ringed with skin folds called annuli, and they usually come in shades of gray, brown, black, orange, or yellow. Some species have tiny, fishlike scales within the rings.

At home in dirt or water

Most caecilians are burrowers, living in a network of tunnels underground. A hard, thick, pointy skull helps these amphibians dig in soft dirt. Because of their underground lifestyle, caecilians have little need to see or hear. Therefore, their eyes are very tiny in some species, or hidden under the skin or skull in other species, making just tiny gray bumps for eyes.

Some species in South America spend their lives in water instead of on land. Caecilians don’t have ear openings, so it is doubtful they can hear sounds the way we do. They rely on their sensitive tentacles, located between the nostrils and the eyes, to locate their prey and find their way around.

Caecilians are the only amphibians to have tentacles.

We do not have any caecilians in our collection currently.

The Basilan Island caecilian Ichthyophis glandulosus is endangered.