AmphibiaWeb - Boulengerula uluguruensis


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Boulengerula uluguruensis Barbour & Loveridge, 1928
Uluguru African Caecilian, Uluguru Pink Caecilian
family: Herpelidae
genus: Boulengerula

© 2006 John Measey (1 of 10)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Least Concern (LC)
National Status None
Regional Status None



View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
View Bd and Bsal data (3 records).

Boulengerula uluguruensis has a holotype that is 272 mm long from nose to rear with a diameter of 5 mm. The species total length ranges from 130 mm to 272 mm and 3.5 mm to 5 mm in diameter. It has a blunt nose that juts out far in front of its jaw and a retractable tentacle that is located at the middle point over the upper jaw (Barbour and Loveridge 1928). There is one row of teeth on its lower jaw with splenial teeth and a free tongue. The eyes are hidden underneath bone (Nussbaum and Hinkel 1994). Its body is slim with 132 - 148 annuli that are interrupted at the middle dorsal line only at the center of the body (Barbour and Loveridge 1928). The species has no secondary annuli and no dermal scales (Nussbaum and Hinkel 1994).

Boulengerula uluguruensis can be distinguished from B. chamgamwensis by their range distributions only. The former has a range in eastern Tanzania, while B. changamwensis is found in southeast Kenya (Harper et al. 2010). The focal species is distinct from B. boulengeri by the latter having fewer annuli, 125 – 135, and having the blue dorsal coloration (Barbour and Loveridge 1928).

In life, B. uluguruensis is a flesh-like pink that is somewhat transparent. With sight assistance, white dots can be seen at its rear (Barbour and Loveridge 1928). In alcohol, B. uluguruensis is solid and without color. A dorsal band can be seen with the naked eye on some specimen but not on the holotype (Barbour and Loveridge 1928).

Distribution and Habitat

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


View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
View Bd and Bsal data (3 records).
This caecilian is found in eastern and coastal mountain ranges of Tanzania, namely the Nguu, Nguru, Uluguru, and Malundwe Mountains, as well as Kazimzumbwi Forest Reserve (Loader et al. 2011). The altitude range of B. uluguruensis is estimated to be 400 - 1200 m above sea level (Measey et al. 2006). It is terrestrial and soil-dwelling, found in lowland areas, natural montane forests, plantation forest, and small-scale agricultural areas (Measey et al. 2006, IUCN 2016). It is has a range of at least 24,939 square kilometers (IUCN 2016).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
A female of the species was recorded to have enlarged eggs at a size of 4 mm by 2.5 mm (Barbour and Loveridge 1928). The species’ life history is mostly unrecorded, but a closely related species, Boulengerula taitanus, lays eggs that hatch through direct development (Nussbaum and Hinkel 1994).

Trends and Threats
Due to its ability to tolerate altered habitats (such as areas of small-scale agriculture), as well as its presumably large population and relatively wide distribution, this species is considered to be of “Least Concern” in terms of conservation (Measey et al. 2006). Possible threats are hypothesized to include habitat disturbance as a result of growing agricultural land use (IUCN 2016).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Intensified agriculture or grazing

The species authority is: Barbour, T., Loveridge A. (1928). “A comparative study of the herpetological faunae of the Uluguru and Usambara Mountains, Tanganyika Territory with descriptions of new species.” Memoirs of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard College, 50:87-265.

Other species in the genus Boulengerula share similar life histories with this species, such as oviparity, direct development, and diets consisting of subterranean macroinvertebrates (Gaborieau and Measey 2004).

Based off of Maximum Likelihood and Bayesian analysis of 12S, 16S, and cytb mitochondrial DNA sequences of five Boulengerula species, B. uluguruensis is most closely related to B. changamwensis. The clade composed of B. uluguruensis and B. changamwensis is sister to a clade composed of B. taitanus and B. niedeni. Boulengerula boulengeri is basal to the other four species (Loader et al. 2011).

This species is named after the Uluguru Mountains in northeastern Tanzania where it is found (Barbour and Loveridge 1928).

Measey et al. (2006) hypothesized that B. uluguruensis is more abundant in agricultural zones than forest habitat, but the hypothesis still needs to be tested.

Boulengerula uluguruensis was reclassified (along with two other related taxa: B. changamwensis and B. taitanus) to a new genus named Afrocaecilia by Taylor, E. H. in 1968 because of the perceived differences between it and the type species B. boulengeri. However, Nussbaum and Hinkel reversed this classification in 1994.


Barbour, T. and Loveridge, A. (1928). ''A comparative study of the herpetological faunae of the Uluguru and Usambara Mountains, Tanganyika Territory with descriptions of new species.'' Memoirs of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, L(2), 85-265.

Gaborieau, O., Measey, G.J. (2004). ''Termitivore or detritivore? A quantitative investigation into the diet of the East African caecilian Boulengerula taitanus (Amphibia: Gymnophiona: Caeciliidae).'' Animal biology, 54(1), 45 – 56.

Gower, D.J., Loader, S.P., Wilkinson, M. (2004). ''Assessing the conservation status of soil-dwelling vertebrates: insights from the rediscovery of Typhlops uluguruensis (Reptilia: Serpentes: Typhlopidae).'' Systematics and Biodiversity , 2(1), 79-82.

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.

IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group. (2016). Boulengerula uluguruensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T59499A16944273. Web. (Downloaded on 18 February 2017).

Loader, S.P., Wilkinson, M., Cotton, J.A., G. Measey, J., Menegon, M., Howell, K.M. Müller, H., Gower, D.J. (2011). ''Molecular phylogenetics of Boulengerula (Amphibia: Gymnophiona: Caeciliidae) and implications for taxonomy, biogeography and conservation.'' Herpetological Journal, 21(1), 5-16.

Measey, G.J., Mejissa, J., Müller, H. (2006). ''Notes on the distribution and abundance of the caecilian Boulengerula uluguruensis (Amphibia: Gymnophiona: Caeciliidae) in the Uluguru Mountains, Tanzania.'' African Journal of Ecology, 44(1), 6-13.

Nussbaum, R.A. and Hinkel, H. (1994). ''Revision of East African caecilians of the genera Afrocaecilia Taylor and Boulengerula Tornier (Amphibia: Gymnophiona: Caeciliaide).'' Copeia, 1994(3), 750-760.

Originally submitted by: Emir Gokce, Megan Duncanson, Marcus Joyce (first posted 2017-07-12)
Edited by: Ann T. Chang (2017-07-12)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2017 Boulengerula uluguruensis: Uluguru African Caecilian <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Feb 26, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 26 Feb 2024.

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