AMPHIBIAWEB
Boulengerula niedeni
family: Herpelidae
 
Species Description: Muller H, Measey GJ, Loader SP, Malonza PK Zootaxa (1004): 37-50 2005

© 2006 John Measey (1 of 1)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status Endangered (EN)
CITES
Other International Status None
National Status None
Regional Status None

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Kenya

 

View distribution map using BerkeleyMapper.

   

From the Encyclopedia of Life account:

Etymology

This species is named for Fritz Nieden, herpetologist at the Zoologisches Museum Berlin during the early 1910s.

The Sagalla people once thought of this animal as ‘mng’ori’ meaning earthworm, but now this caecilian is called 'kilimamrota' (Measey et al. 2009, © SANBI).


Author: Zimkus, Breda
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Distribution

This species is known only from Sagalla Hill in the Taita Hills (Text from Harper et al., 2010).


Author: Zimkus, Breda
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Size

Males are 160 – 280 mm and females 150 – 275 mm in snout-vent length (Harper et al., 2010).


Author: Zimkus, Breda
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Diagnostic Description

This is a medium-sized caecilian that appears light brown to dark grey above with only a slightly lighter ventrum. The head sometimes appears lighter as the skin is stretched over the bone. It has tentacles and a recessed mouth, but no visible eye, which is beneath the bone. Primary annuli range from 141 to 148 (Text from Harper et al., 2010).


Author: Zimkus, Breda
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Comparisons

It differs from all other Boulengerula, except B. taitanus, by its pigmentation with whitish marked annular grooves. It differs from B. taitanus by its distinctive brownish colouration, an exposed sphenethmoid, a higher mean number of annuli and vertebrae, and different phallus morphology (Müller et al., 2005). It is similar to B. taitanus but more slender and lacks the blue-black ventrum (Harper et al., 2010).


Author: Zimkus, Breda
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Habitat and Ecology

As the name suggests, this caecilian only lives on Sagalla, and like the other caecilian, it only lives in areas that have moist and fertile, black, soil. This means that many areas of Sagalla are unsuitable, including the eucalyptus plantation and the lower dry areas (Text from Measey et al. 2009, © SANBI)

It is relatively common on small farms at elevations between 1000 and 1550 m, especially those near streams or with manure heaps, of eastern Sagalla (above 1000 m). It is absent from eucalyptus plantations and only rarely encountered in small fragments of remaining indigenous forests (Harper et al., 2010).


Authors: Zimkus, Breda; Bergmann, Travis
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Associations

The young probably feed off the skin of the mother, before becoming independent. The Sagalla caecilian feeds on earthworms and termites as well as other small invertebrates that live in the soil (Text from Measey et al. 2009, © SANBI).


Author: Bergmann, Travis
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Reproduction

There is very little known about this species, but we think that like the other Taita caecilian, it breeds in ‘Vuli’, the short rainy season, laying eggs in a small burrow in the soil (Text from Measey et al. 2009, © SANBI).

Eggs can be seen when in the oviducts of females, being laid in chambers within the soil. These are guarded by the female and hatch directly into pink altricial young. Adults eat termites, earthworms and other soil macroinvertebrates within their subterranean burrows (Text from Harper et al., 2010).


Authors: Zimkus, Breda; Bergmann, Travis
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

IUCN Red List Category and Justification of Conservation Status

As this species occupies such a small area on Sagalla, and due to the problems with the spreading eucalyptus and ongoing soil erosion, this species is considered to be Critically Endangered (Text from Measey et al. 2009, © SANBI).


Author: Bergmann, Travis
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/