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American Tailed Caecilians: Rhinatrematidae

Marbled Caecilian (epicrionops Marmoratus): Species Account

Physical characteristics: Marbled caecilians reach a length of about 12 inches (30 centimeters). They have a stocky build, and the tail is about 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) long. The back is dark purple with scattered yellowish blotches. The sides and belly are yellow with scattered dark purple spots.

Geographic range: Marbled caecilians live on the Pacific slope of Ecuador.

Habitat: Marbled caecilians live in rainforests. They also live along streams in areas that have been cleared of trees.

Marbled caecilians live in rainforests. They also live along streams in areas that have been cleared of trees. (Illustration by Patricia Ferrer. Reproduced by permission.)

Diet: Marbled caecilians probably eat earthworms and small insects and crustaceans. Crustaceans (krus-TAY-shuns), such as crayfish, are water-dwelling animals that have jointed legs and a hard shell but no backbone.

Behavior and reproduction: In captivity marbled caecilians dig their own burrows in moist soil. They find earthworms and crickets by scent and lunge forward to grasp them in their jaws. To eat larger earthworms, which struggle when caught, marbled caecilians grasp the worm in their mouth and then rapidly spin around to break the worm in half. The caecilian then swallows the grasped part of the worm. Crocodiles and alligators use the same method to subdue and rip apart their prey.

Scientists are not sure how marbled caecilians reproduce. Larvae of this species have been found in leaf litter and stone rubble on the bottoms of small streams. This finding is evidence that marbled caecilians are an egg-laying species.

Marbled caecilians and people: Marbled caecilians have no known importance to people.

Conservation status: Marbled caecilians are not considered threatened or endangered. ∎



Lamar, William W. The World's Most Spectacular Reptiles and Amphibians. Tampa, FL: World, 1997.

Lawlor, Elizabeth P. Discover Nature in Water and Wetlands. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole, 2000.

Llamas Ruiz, Andres. Reptiles and Amphibians: Birth and Growth. New York: Sterling, 1996.

Petranka, J. W. Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1998.

Web sites:

"Caecilian." Animal Bytes. http://www.sandiegozoo.org/animalbytes/t-caecilian.html (accessed on April 11, 2005).

Hawes, Alex. "On Waterdogs, Mudpuppies, and the Occasional Hellbender." Zoogoer. http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Publications/ZooGoer/2000/2/waterdogsmudpuppieshellbender.cfm (accessed on April 11, 2005).

Summers, Adam. "Squeeze Play." Natural History. http://biomechanics.bio.uci.edu/_html/nh_biomech/caecilian/caecilian.htm (accessed on April 11, 2005).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceAmphibiansAmerican Tailed Caecilians: Rhinatrematidae - Physical Characteristics, Marbled Caecilian (epicrionops Marmoratus): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, BEHAVIOR AND REPRODUCTION, AMERICAN TAILED CAECILIANS AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS