Kaup’s Caecilian

ANIMAL:
Kaup’s Caecilian Potamotyphlus kaupii

Type of Animal:
Caecilian

Habitat:
Freshwater river & drainage systems, can be found in altitudes as high as 1,640.42 ft

Location(s):
Amazon River/surrounding areas, Orinoco River/surrounding areas, & Guianas

Appearance:
Limbless gray to brown amphibian, looks like aquatic snake/eel (but not reptile or fish), laterally compressed body makes it look like segmented worm

Food/Diet:
Earthworms, insects, small fish, shrimp

Status in Wild:
Stable

Conservation:
Breeding in zoos, aquariums, herpetoculture, & aquaculture

Lifestyle:
Small groups of 4-8 individuals

Additional Info:

Called:
Male
Females
Young: Larva
Group: Colony

Weight:
Male: 1 oz
Female: 3 oz

Gestation:
6-7 months

Life Span:
4-5 years

Body Length:
Male: 1 ft
Female: 2 ft
Young: 0.5 ft

Main predators are birds, fish, snakes, & mammals.

Unlike many amphibians, they’re ovoviviparous, w/ eggs developing inside mom’s body, coming out as live young. Usually 1-11 live young born.

Like most amphibians, they breathe through skin.

These amphibians are regularly caught in shrimp traps.

Only species in genus Potamotyphlus.

These caecilians are entirely aquatic & spend entire lives in water.

They often wait patiently for prey.

They’ll often wiggle in place to create water flow.

Tentacles on head help them find food/sense predators/feel surroundings.

They move similar to worms.

They swallow prey whole.

Peg-like teeth used to grip/tear prey.

Adults can hold breath for 30 minutes at a time.

Mating involves male inserting penis-like organ (phallodeum) into female cloaca for 2-3 hours.

Since they’re basically blind, they hunt using smell. Hearing also quite poor.

Fun Fact(s):
Name Caecilian comes from Latin word “caecus” meaning blind, since eyes tiny & they’re basically blind.

While basically being blind, they can tell difference between light & dark.

Occasionally kept as pets & due to eel-like appearance/aquatic habits, sometimes sold as fish.

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