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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless credited to others.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2024







Yellow-striped Caecilian

Fig 1

Fig 2

Species : Ichthyophis spp.
Total Length :  This specimen 30 cm.

Caecilians are a separate group of amphibians classed under the order Apoda. Their key identifiable feature is their apparent lack of external limbs, though degenerate limbs are present in most species.

They are wormlike, burrowing animals, with smooth, moist skin which appears narrowly segmented. The eyes are small and covered with skin, and their visual perception is limited to determining between light and dark. They are able to take in oxygen both through their skin and lungs.

They possess a short tail, and the cloaca (the common reproductory and intestinal opening) is close to the end of the body. Two small sensory tentacles are present on the head which probably assist in locating their food source - burrowing invertebrates. The genus Ichthyophis are egg-laying.

Their subterranean lifestyle means they are rarely encountered except, perhaps, after heavy rainfall or in areas of recently disturbed soil.

Six families of Caecilians are recognised, ranging through Africa, South America and Southeast Asia. The family Ichthyophiidae are widespread in Southeast Asia, comprising 40 species or so.

Figs 1 and 2 : This roadkill specimen was found after a localised landslip at Fraser's Hill, Pahang, Peninsular Malaysia. It measured around 30 cm in length.

Fig 3 : Female example killed on a road passing through lowland habitat in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Note the presence of a clutch of eggs extruded from its damaged body. A total of 7 roadkill caecilians were seen on the same day along a 3 km section of road during the early part of the rainy season in June 2023.  Photo thanks to Derek Clark.

References : H2, H3


Fig 3

ゥ  Derek Clark