AmphibiaWeb - Ichthyophis moustakius


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Ichthyophis moustakius Kamei, Wilkinson, Gower & Biju, 2009
Manipur moustached Ichthyophis
family: Ichthyophiidae
genus: Ichthyophis
Species Description: Kamei RG, Wilkinson M, Gower DJ, Biju SD 2009 Three new species of striped Ichthyophis (Amphibia: Gymnophiona: Ichthyophiidae) from the northeast Indian states of Manipur and Nagaland. Zootaxa 2267:26-42.
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Data Deficient (DD)
National Status None
Regional Status None
conservation needs Access Conservation Needs Assessment Report .


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Diagnosis: Ichthyophis moustakius can be distinguished by the following combination of characters: distinctive arched moustache-like stripes extending between the nares and tentacular apertures and broader at the nares; lateral yellow stripes that are relatively broad (ratio of midbody width to stripe width at midbody is less than 4), solid and regular, running from the anterior of the tail to at least the level of the corners of the mouth; stripes are broader along the lower jaw; a narrow anterior gap in striping occurs just behind the first nuchal groove; stripes broaden on the collars and are visible on the ventral surface of the collars; stripes connected by spurs to the disc; not known to reach adult total length greater than 300 mm; L/W ratio between 18-25; fewer than 300 annular grooves, which are paler than the adjacent skin; head fairly short, more U-shaped than V-shaped, with total length/head length ratio of 19-25; tentacular apertures approximately twice as far from nares than from eyes (TN/TE varying from 1.9-2.3); collars similar in length; no scales on collars, starting at about the fourth or fifth annulus, with five scale rows posteriorly on dorsum; somewhat similar numbers of splenial and dentary teeth (34-36 splenial teeth, 40-45 dentary teeth) (Kamei et al. 2009).

Description: Adult males measure 196-203 mm in total length. Adult females measure 203-287 mm in total length. Head, trunk and nuchal region show slight dorsoventral compression. Annular grooves number 238-268 when counted dorsally. Collar region is slightly more massive than the head and body and is defined by weak constrictions. Second collar is slightly longer than the first. Girth reaches a maximum near the midbody, then decreases gradually until tapering more abruptly over the last 10 mm of length. Total length/midbody width = 20.6. Eyes lie closer to the top of the head than to the lip. Nares lie just posterior to the level of the anterior margin of the mouth, and are equidistant in lateral view from the top, bottom, and tip of the snout. The tentacular apertures are larger than the nares and slightly smaller than the eyes, and are located closer to the eyes (less than 2x the distance from the nares as from the eyes) and very close to the lip. However, the position of the tentacular aperture varies more than is usual for the genus (the TN/TE ratio is between 1.9-2.3). In ventral view, the lower jaw is set in from the upper jaw. Teeth are slender and strongly recurved, with I. moustakius having 40-45 premaxillary and maxillary teeth, 39-42 vomeropalatine teeth, 40-45 dentary teeth, and 34-36 splenial teeth. Very narrrow choanae with the distance between them 3-5x greater than their width. Posterior of the tongue is not strongly plicate. Tiny scales are found within the first annular groove. Three rows of small scales are present in shallow pockets as far anterior as the eleventh annulus. Four rows of large scales are present in deep pockets at the dorsal midbody; three or four rows of smaller scales are found in shallow pockets at the ventral midbody. At about twenty annuli anterior to the vent, five rows of larger rounded scales are found in deep pockets on the dorsum, while four rows of smaller scales are found in shallow pockets on the venter. Papillae may or may not be present on the disc. Vent is surrounded by 13-17 irregular denticulations. Tail may or may not be upturned towards the tip (Kamei et al. 2009).

Coloration in life: uniform dark reddish gray dorsum with a pale reddish gray venter and broad, mostly solid lateral bright yellow stripes that run from the anterior of the tail as far as the tentacular apertures; yellow stripes may or may not be broken across the collars. Distinctive arched yellow moustache-like stripes run between the tentacular apertures and the nares, and are thickest near the nares. The vent disc has a slight mauvish coloration (Kamei et al 2009).

In preservative, most surfaces appear lilac-gray with a brownish tint. The ventral surfaces are slightly paler. Lateral stripes are present from the 2nd or 3rd posteriormost annulus to the level of the eyes on the upper jaw, close to the tip of the jaw, and expanding on the ventral part of the collars, especially the first collar, with a narrow break just behind the first nuchal groove. Moustache-like stripe is visible as a slender yellow line extending dorsally then curving to the anterior from the tentacular apertures to the nares, and broadest near the nares. Annular grooves are paler than the body, particularly at the posterior (Kamei et al 2009).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: India

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Endemic to India. Found in Aziuram, Nswanram, Nriangluang, and Bamgaizaeng in Tamenglong district, Manipur at an elevation of 300-1100 m asl. Most specimens were dug out from wet soil at the center of the village; one was found beneath a rock in secondary forest (Kamei et al. 2009).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Females were found with egg clutches containing about 9-19 eggs per clutch. The clutches were found during the dry period in early June, and were in the early stages of development, which suggests that this species is a relatively early breeder compared with anurans found in the same region (Kamei et al. 2009).

Trends and Threats
The population status and range size are not known. This species can tolerate some habitat disturbance. However, the region is undergoing increased deforestation and habitat degradation (Kamei et al. 2009).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Intensified agriculture or grazing


Species authority: Kamei et al. (2009).

The Greek word moustakius means moustache. The name refers to the distinctive yellow arched stripes (Kamei et al. 2009).


Kamei, R.G., Wilkinson, M., Gower, D.J. and Biju, S.D. (2009). ''Three new species of striped Ichthyophis (Amphibia: Gymnophiona: Ichthyophiidae) from the northeast Indian states of Manipur and Nagaland.'' Zootaxa, 2267, 26-42.

Originally submitted by: Stephanie Ung and Kellie Whittaker (first posted 2009-11-12)
Edited by: Kellie Whittaker (2012-01-11)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2012 Ichthyophis moustakius: Manipur moustached Ichthyophis <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jul 13, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 13 Jul 2024.

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