AMPHIBIAWEB

Herpelidae

10 species in 2 genera

Commonly Called African Caecilians


Boulengerula taitana
Photo by John Measey
(Click for family gallery)

These slender African caecilians (35 cm or less) are poorly known; much of their natural history is surmised from what is known of Boulengerula taitana. Boulengerula taitana exhibits both egg guarding in an underground nest as well as parental care afterward when the female grows a lipid-rich skin, which is eaten by the young. This species has been found in mountainous as well as agricultural areas of East Africa.

The two genera are disjunctly distributed in Africa, with Herpele from West Africa and Boulengerula in East Africa.
Written by AmphibiaWeb

Notable Family Characteristics

  • Fossorial
  • Egg guarding in an underground nest by the female (known in Boulengerula taitana)
  • Female feeds young with a lipid-rich skin secretions (known in Boulengerula taitana)
  • Distinguishable by the following combination of characters: 1) perforate stapes, 2) multiple, small antotic foramina, 3) no separate septomaxillae or separate prefrontals. Eyes concealed under bone
  • Distribution in Africa; Herpele known only from West Africa and Boulengerula in East Africa

Relevant Reference

Wilkinson, M., San Mauro, D., Sherratt, E., and Gower, D. J. 2011. A nine-family classification of caecilians (Amphibia: Gymnophiona). Zootaxa 2874: 41-64.

Pough, F. H., R. M. Andrews, M. L. Crump, A. H. Savitzky, K. D. Wells, and M. C. Brandley. 2015. Herpetology. Fourth Edition. Massachusetts: Sinauer.

Vitt, L. J., and J. P. Caldwell. 2013. Herpetology. An Introductory Biology of Amphibians and Reptiles. Fourth Edition. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Genus Boulengerula (8 species)
Boulengerula boulengeri no AmphibiaWeb account photos no sound/video
Boulengerula changamwensis no AmphibiaWeb account photos no sound/video
Boulengerula denhardti no AmphibiaWeb account no photos no sound/video
Boulengerula fischeri no AmphibiaWeb account photos no sound/video
Boulengerula niedeni no AmphibiaWeb account photos no sound/video
Boulengerula spawlsi no AmphibiaWeb account no photos no sound/video
Boulengerula taitana AmphibiaWeb account photos no sound/video
Boulengerula uluguruensis AmphibiaWeb account photos no sound/video

Genus Herpele (2 species)
Herpele multiplicata no AmphibiaWeb account no photos no sound/video
Herpele squalostoma no AmphibiaWeb account photos no sound/video


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