Caecilians range in size from 7 in. to 4.5 ft (18 cm–140 cm) most are about 1 ft (30 cm) long. Their bodies are ringed with grooves, which in some species contain small scales imbedded in the skin possession of scales is a primitive amphibian trait. There is a groove on either side of the head, each containing a retractable sensory tentacle. The eyes of caecilians are nearly functionless, and some species are eyeless.
Caecilians are found in swampy places in most tropical parts of the world, but are seldom seen because of their burrowing behavior. They eat small invertebrates such as termites and earthworms. A few species remain aquatic as adults and resemble eels.
There are more than 180 species of caecilians, divided into 10 families. They are classified in the phylum Chordata , subphylum Vertebrata, class Amphibia, order Gymnophiona (or Apoda).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Vertebrate Zoology
Browse by Subject
- Earth and the Environment +-
- History +-
- Literature and the Arts +-
- Medicine +-
- People +-
- Philosophy and Religion +-
- Places +-
- Australia and Oceania
- Britain, Ireland, France, and the Low Countries
- Commonwealth of Independent States and the Baltic Nations
- Germany, Scandinavia, and Central Europe
- Latin America and the Caribbean
- Oceans, Continents, and Polar Regions
- Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, and the Balkans
- United States, Canada, and Greenland
- Plants and Animals +-
- Science and Technology +-
- Social Sciences and the Law +-
- Sports and Everyday Life +-