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Geotrypetes seraphini
Gaboon caecilian
family: Dermophiidae

© 2000 Henk Wallays (1 of 10)

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Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status Least Concern (LC)
See IUCN account.
CITES No CITES Listing
Other International Status None
National Status None
Regional Status None

   

Description
Like all caecilians, Geotrypetes seraphini is blind and limbless. Adult species can reach a length of about 400 mm and a diameter of 10 - 15 mm. They are a purplish-gray color and have superficial annulae due to the pull of muscle-connective tissue elements on the skin. They are a dark grey in color with light grey lines running from the lateral side of its body to the ventral side (Wake 1977).

The eyes are completely hidden under the skin and are near the edge of the upper lip. There are about 145 to 155 circular folds from the head to the tip of the caudal appendage (Duméril 1859).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Cameroon, Congo, Congo, the Democratic Republic of the, Cote d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone

View distribution map using BerkeleyMapper.
Geotrypetes seraphini is native to eastern Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, Cameroon, Gabon, and western Democratic Republic of Congo and lives mainly underground in lowland forest. It can also be found in habitats that have been heavily degraded, including villages and near rice fields (Loader et al. 2004).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Geotrypetes seraphini is viviparous and does not depend on water for breeding (Loader et al. 2004). Female Geotrypetes seraphini can carry 3 - 4 fetuses in the oviducts. The gills of the fetus are resorbed shortly after emerging from the egg membrane. At birth, the fetus is approximately 73 - 77 mm in length, and about 32% of the total length of the mother. Adult female Geotrypetes seraphini have a high demand for nutrition; so anywhere from 24 to 44 mm of yolk can be resorbed. Fetuses have a characteristic intra-oviducal multi-rowed dentition with spoon-shaped tooth browns, which are shed right before birth or soon after. These teeth then get replaced by recurved teeth with shallow labial cusps (Wake 1987), which are used to scrape algae from rocks and leaves (Wake 1977).

Geotrypetes seraphini has different methods for capturing prey, depending on how the prey is positioned. If Geotrypetes seraphini and the prey meet head on, the caecilian will bite repeatedly. If the prey is met laterally, Geotrypetes seraphini grabs it with its jaws, pulling the prey further into its burrow, and continues by spinning its body rapidly so that the walls of the burrow are used to damage the body further (Bennett and Wake 1974).

The snake Midon acanthias is known to prey on Geotrypetes seraphini by pursuing it a short distance into its burrow. In order to escape predation, Geotrypetes seraphini uses its burrow as a refuge and rapidly retreats deeper into it (Bennett and Wake 1974).

Geotrypetes seraphini is primarily dependent on an anaerobiosis process for energy production, and becomes fatigued within a couple of minutes of high levels of activity (Bennett and Wake 1974).

Trends and Threats
Geotrypetes seraphini is not considered threatened because of its large population sizes and slow decline. Geotrypetes seraphini can be found in degraded habitats because of its high tolerance to habitat modification. It also occurs in many areas that are protected such as the Tai National Park (Loader et al. 2004).

Relation to Humans
Geotrypetes seraphini has been found in the international pet trade, but trading does not seem to be a major threat to the species (Loader et al. 2004).

Comments
Geotrypetes is part of the family Dermophiidae, which also includes Dermophis, Gymnopis, and Schistometopum. The three species of Geotrypetes include angeli, pseudoangeli, and seraphini. Geotrypetes is the only caecilian family with the tentacle far forward, under the nostril (Wilkinson 2011).

Duméril named this species on behalf of Mr. Séraphin Poacher (Duméril 1859). Geotrypetes seraphini is synonymous with Caecilia seraphini (Duméril 1859, Loader et al. 2004)

References
 

Duméril, A.M.C. (1859). ''Reptiles et poissons de l’Afrique occidentale. Étude précédée de considérations générales sur leur distribution géographique. .'' Archives du Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle, 10, 137-268.  

Simon Loader, Mark-Oliver Rödel, Mark Wilkinson 2004. Geotrypetes seraphini. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded on February 2015.  

Wake, M.H. (1977). ''Fetal Maintenance and Its Evolutionary Significance in the Amphibia: Gymnophiona. .'' Journal of Herpetology, 11(4), 379-386.  

Wake, M.H. (1987). ''A New Genus of African Caecilian (Amphibia: Gymnophiona).'' Journal of Herpetology, 21(1), 6-15.  

Wake, M.H., Bennet, A.F (1974). ''Metabolic Correlates of Activity in the Caecilian Geotrypetes seraphini.'' Copeia, 1974(3), 764-769.  

Wilkinson, M., San Mauro, D., Sherratt, E., and Gower, D. (2011). ''A nine-family classification of caeclians (Amphibia: Gymnophiona).'' Zootaxa,



Written by Tamar Garcia (gtamar02 AT berkeley.edu), UC Berkeley
First submitted 2015-02-19
Edited by Ann T. Chang (2015-05-10)



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Citation: AmphibiaWeb: Information on amphibian biology and conservation. [web application]. 2015. Berkeley, California: AmphibiaWeb. Available: http://amphibiaweb.org/. (Accessed: May 26, 2015).

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