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Caecilian

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Caecilian
Caecilian.jpg
Scientific Classification
Families

[1]

Caecilians are an order of amphibians which have smooth skin strengthened by keratin, moving by snake-like actions.[2]They eat primarily earthworms and termites, which they capture by twisting themselves around their prey and swallow whole.[3] When their food has been digested and all of the energy used, the waste products are sent to the cloaca to be expelled, an organ which in females is also used in reproduction. Most caecilians are oviparous and all use internal reproduction. [4]. The survival of certain species is becoming increasingly threatened, with a few endangered ones facing extinction. [5]

Body Design

A caecilian has a long, segmented body with smooth skin

Caecilians lack limbs and superficially resemble earthworms or snakes. Most species have lungs, but some use their skin or mouth to absorb oxygen. They have small eyes covered by their smooth skin strengthened by keratin and are nearly blind due to the amount of time spent underground. [6] This species is designed to burrow, and as such only a few species have small limbs. [7] Those species which do not have limbs move through contracting their muscles and moving along the smooth surface of their skin. [8] Food is passed from the mouth through the digestive systems and into the cloaca. This opening, which is located near the rear of the body, functions for both males and females as a common urinary, reproductive, and digestive opening. [9]

Life Cycle

Most caecilians mate during almost any season and always practice internal fertilization [10] in a two to three hour process. [11] In oviparous development, the eggs are then deposited either in mud or on land and usually hatch into or are born as immature larvae although some are already adults by that time. [12] Only about one quarter of caecilians are hatched from eggs, the rest being born alive. [13]. Oviparously developed caecilians usually hatch as larvae as opposed to adults, in which case undergo metamorphosis to become adults. While eggs are usually laid on land where the adults live, most larvae live in the water, where they develop into adults if they can survive predators.[14].

Ecology

Caecilians are found all around the world, demonstrating their resilience

Adult caecilians live underground on land and survive by burrowing through the soil, an action accomplished by movements similar to those of snakes. They are found in parts of Latin America, South America, Africa, India, and Southeast Asia. Their prey consists primarily of invertebrates, especially earthworms and termites, which they consume by coiling themselves around the prey and feeling its size. Most caecilians will eat almost any edible type of invertebrate, but hunt mostly in wet soil where they live. Snakes and birds are the most dangerous predators of caecilians, but some can defend themselves through hiding, using camouflage, or secreting poisons. [15]

Threats of Extinction

Caecilians are mainly threatened by deforestation and farming, although the latter may not be entirely harmful to them. Removal of the foods that they naturally eat, such as plants, termites, or earthworms can be devastating, and has threatened the survival of entire species. Erosion can threaten overall survival by the removal of the soil in which they live and reproduce. Many of these animals are only able to consume specific forms of prey and continued overuse of their native habitats drastically threatens their survival, a fact demonstrated by the classification of certain species as endangered[16]. [17].A good habitat is vital for survival, with caecilians relying upon wet soil to burrow in and survive. [18]

Video

Gallery

References

  1. Gymnophiona Wikispecies. Web. Accessed 10 February 2013.
  2. Caecilian English !nfo. Web. Accessed 12 February 2013.
  3. . Bio Facts: Caecilian, Rio Cauca Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. Web. Accessed 12 February 2013.
  4. Caecilians: Gymnophiona - Behavior And Reproduction animals.jrank.org. Web. Accessed 26 February 2013.
  5. . Tailless Caecilians: Caeciliidae - Habitat Animals.jrank.org. Web. Accessed 26 February 2013.
  6. . Caecilian English !nfo. Web. Accessed 12 February 2013.
  7. . Bio Facts: Caecilian, Rio Cauca Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. Web. Accessed 12 February 2013.
  8. . Caecilian Amphibian Blogspot. Web. Accessed 12 February 2013.
  9. . Caecilian English !nfo. Web. Accessed 12 February 2013.
  10. .Gymnophiona Encyclopedia Brittanica Online. Web. Accessed 26 February 2013.
  11. Gymnophiona (order) ZipcodeZoo.com. Web. Accessed 26 February 2013.
  12. . Gymnophiona Encyclopedia Brittanica Online. Web. Accessed 26 February 2013.
  13. .Gymnophiona (Order) ZipcodeZoo.com.
  14. Caecilians: Gymnophiona - Behavior And Reproduction animals.jrank.org. Web. Accessed 26 February 2013.
  15. . Amphibian Species Information] Edge. Web. Accessed 26 February 2013.
  16. . Amphibian Species Information] Edge. Web. Accessed 26 February 2013.
  17. . Amphibians: Caecilian] San Diego Zoo. Web. Accessed 21 February 2013.
  18. . Tailless Caecilians: Caeciliidae - Habitat Animals.jrank.org. Web. Accessed 26 February 2013.

Caecilian English !nfo. Web. Accessed 12 February 2013.