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Scolecomorphidae

6 species in 2 genera

Commonly Called Buried-eyed Caecilians, Tropical Caecilians


Scolecomorphus vittatus
Photo by John Measey
(Click for family gallery)

The family Scolecomorphidae consists of small to medium-sized caecilians (ranging from 270-448 mm), with counter-sunk lower jaws and tentacle-like openings placed very far forward on the snout. Orbits are absent; eyes are connected basally to the tentacle and are protruded along with the tentacle. They lack a stapes as well as secondary and tertiary annuli. Annular grooves lack dermal scales. Females tend to have more vertebrae than males, and as a result are longer and larger. Of the two genera in this family, Scolecomorphus is viviparous. Much is unknown of their natural history and biology.

Their distribution is restricted to western and eastern equatorial Africa.

Written by AmphibiaWeb

Notable Family Characteristics

  • Fossorial
  • Viviparity in Scolecomorphus, but oviparity may exist in Crotaphatrema
  • Some evidence for maternal dermatophagy, but more information is needed
  • Morphological characters include: 1) counter-sunk lower jaws; 2) absent orbits and eyes beneath bone; 3) eyes are connected basally to the tentable and protrude along with it; 3) tentacle placed far forward; 5) only primary annuli present; 6) absent or vestigial dermal scales only; 7) stapes in middle ear absent; 8) no true tail
  • Distribution limited to equatorial Africa

Relevant Reference

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 Crotaphatrema (3 species)
Crotaphatrema bornmuelleri no AmphibiaWeb account no photos no sound/video
Crotaphatrema lamottei AmphibiaWeb account no photos no sound/video
Crotaphatrema tchabalmbaboensis no AmphibiaWeb account no photos no sound/video

Genus Scolecomorphus (3 species)
Scolecomorphus kirkii AmphibiaWeb account photos no sound/video
Scolecomorphus uluguruensis no AmphibiaWeb account no photos no sound/video
Scolecomorphus vittatus AmphibiaWeb account photos no sound/video


Citation: AmphibiaWeb: Information on amphibian biology and conservation. [web application]. Berkeley, California: AmphibiaWeb. Available: https://amphibiaweb.org/. (Accessed:

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