Schistometopum gregorii
East African Flood Plain Caecelian
family: Dermophiidae

© 2006 John Measey (1 of 12)

View distribution map using BerkeleyMapper.

Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status Least Concern (LC)
See IUCN account.
Other International Status None
National Status None
Regional Status None


Diagnosis: Shistometopum gregorii is a caeciliid that does not have the eye under bone. The eye socket is formed primarily by the squamosal; maxilla forms the anterior border. There is no temporal fossae. The mesethmoid is exposed dorsally between separated frontals. The tentacular aperture is closer to the eye than to external naris. Splenial teeth, secondary annuli, and scales are present. There is no unsegmented terminal shield, narial plugs, diastema between vomerine and palatine teeth, and terminal keel (Nussbaum and Pfrender 1998).

Description: Both male and female adults range from 160 to 330 mm in snout-vent length (Harper et al. 2010). Total lengths for Shistometopum gregorii are between 150 mm and 350 mm. Average number of primary annuli is 114.3 for males and 114.5 for females (ranging from 110 to 119) (Harper et al. 2010; Nussbaum and Pfrender 1998). Average number of secondary annuli is 46. Average number of complete secondary annuli is about 11 (Nussbaum and Pfrender 1998). Small scales can be found in the skin. S. gregorii has visible eyes. (Channing and Howell 2006).

Coloration: S. gregorii has a black body that is grey to brown throughout. The head is usually a shade of grey and is usually different from the body coloration. (Channing and Howell 2006; Harper et al. 2010).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Kenya, Tanzania, United Republic of

View distribution map using BerkeleyMapper.
S. gregorii is found in East Africa in the countries of Kenya and Tanzania. In Kenya, it is found in the Tana River Delta. In Tanzania, it is found in Bagamoyo. It has not yet been discovered in the area between the Tana River and Bagamoyo. It is associated with mudflats, water bodies, and can be abundant in agricultural land. It is found near sea level from 0 to 10 m. (Loader et al. 2004; Harper et al. 2010)

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
This species is generally fossorial. It is possible, although not known, that S. gregorii may enter aestivation during dry conditions. S. gregorii are known to be good swimmers. They might use this skill as a dispersal method (Harper et al. 2010).

While little is known about reproduction in S. gregorii, it is a viviparous and most likely a precocial species. Adults eat soil macroinvertebrates such as earthworms and termites. (Channing and Howell 2006; Harper et. al. 2010).

Trends and Threats
The population trend is unknown. While there are no good population estimates and accounts of this species are rare, it is believed that because of their wide range and use of fairly stable habitats that S. gregorii is an abundant species. However, this species may suffer from future mechanical rice farming (Loader et al. 2004)

S. gregorii was first described by Boulenger 1894 (Frost 2011).

S. gregorii was named for the geologist, J.W. Gregory who discovered the holotype (Channing and Howell 2006; Nussbaum and Pfrender 1998). The species was previously named Dermophis gregorrii and Bdellophis unicolor (Frost 2011).

The two populations of S. gregorii might be distinct species. Cloaca in S. gregorii have similar morphology to that of S. thomense. Also, the mid-dorsal region of the phallodeum in two Tanzanian specimens of S. gregorii have a greater resemblance to the morphology of S. thomense than to the single, examined specimen of a Kenyan S. gregorii (Gower and Wilkinson 2002).


Channing, A., and Howell, K. M. (2006). Amphibians of East Africa. Cornell University Press, Ithaca.

Frost, D. (2011). Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 5.5.

Gower, D. J., and Wilkinson, M. (2002). ''Phallus morphology in caecilians (Amphibia: Gymnophiona) and its systematic utility.'' Bulletin of the Natural History Society of London (Zoology), 68, 143-154.

Harper, E. B., Measey G. J., Patrick D. A., Menegon M., and Vonesh J. R. (2010). Field Guide to Amphibians of the Eastern Arc Mountains and Coastal Forests of Tanzania and Kenya. Camerapix Publishers International, Nairobi, Kenya.

Loader, S., Howell, K., Gower, D., Measey, J., and Wilkinson, M. (2004). Schistometopum gregorii. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. Downloaded on 14 April 2011.

Nussbaum, R.A. and Pfrender, M.E. (1998). ''Revision of the African caecilian genus Schistometopum Parker (Amphibia: Gymnophiona: Caeciliidae).'' Miscellaneous Publications Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, 187, 1-32.

Written by Karen Sorenson, Yu-Huan Wu, and Mary Watson (kmsorenson AT, yuwu AT, marywatson87 AT, UC Davis
First submitted 2011-04-21
Edited by Mingna (Vicky) Zhuang, Kellie Whitaker (2012-03-22)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2012 Schistometopum gregorii: East African Flood Plain Caecelian <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Mar 26, 2017.

Feedback or comments about this page.


Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2017. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 26 Mar 2017.

AmphibiaWeb's policy on data use.