Rio Cauca Caecilian

Rio Cauca Caecilian Typhlonectes natans

Type of Animal:

Rivers, marshes, lakes, shallow streams, floodplains, polluted water, tropical/subtropical moist shrubland, tropical/subtropical dry shrubland, tropical/subtropical seasonally wet/flooded lowland grassland, dry savanna

Colombia, Venezuela, possibly Trinidad & Tobago

Elongated limbless dark gray to black to dark purplish/bluish-gray amphibian w/ paler ventral surface, looks like aquatic snake/eel (but not reptile or fish), lateral flattened body gives segmented appearance (not segmented worm either)

Worms, insects, insect larvae/eggs, spiders, shrimp, fish, carrion

Status in Wild:

Breeding in zoos, aquariums, herpetoculture, & aquaculture

Small groups of around 4 individuals

Additional Info:

Young: Larva
Group: Colony
Male: 1.34 oz
Female: 1.8-6.07 oz

6-7 months 

Life Span:
5 years in wild, 10-13 years in captivity

Body Length:
Male: 0.82-1.91 ft
Female: 0.94-2.37 ft
Young: 0.5 ft

Main predators are pigs, birds, fish, & snakes.
Unlike many amphibians, they’re ovoviviparous, w/ eggs developing inside mom’s body, coming out as live young. Usually 1-11 live young born.
Fetuses develop large gills which drop off a few hours after birth.
Sexually mature at 1 year old.
Like most amphibians, they breathe through skin, though they sometimes breathe at surface.
Left lung smaller than right lung.
Tentacles on head help them find food/sense predators/feel surroundings.
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.
They’re very secretive in the wild.
Peg-like teeth used to grip/tear prey.
Spend entire lives in water, being able to thrive in polluted water as well as dried up water.
Adults can hold breath for 30 minutes at a time.
They often wait patiently for prey.

Fun Fact(s):
Females have been found to double weight before giving birth.
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.
Often called rubber eels due to appearance.
High tolerance for polluted water key reason why they’re doing well in wild.
Sometimes kept as pets & due to eel-like appearance/aquatic habits, sometimes sold as fish.

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