The Sagalla Caecilian, Boulengerula niedini

The Sagalla caecilian (Boulengerula niedini) is a long, earthworm-like amphibian from the family Caeciliidae. The species is native to the tiny area of south-eastern Kenya called Sagalla Hill.

The Sagalla caecilian has a slender body, perfect for burrowing. Its skin is extremely pigmented, lending it a brownish color with a pinkish-red hint, and white cross segments that give the appearance of grooves. They can grow up to 12 inches in length.

Along with tough skin and a bony head, the Sagalla caecilian has extremely reduced, barely functioning eyes. The eyes are covered by a layer of bone and skin and they are known to only achieve simple dark-light perception. On either side of the head, retractable tentacles are located between the nose and eyes. The mouth contains 3 rows of teeth, 2 in the upper jaw and 3 in the lower.

The Sagalla caecilian feeds on invertebrates such as earthworms, termites, and other moist, soil- dwelling insects. Burrowing through the soil in search of prey, the species is deemed an underground dweller. Mucus and poison glands cover the Sagalla’s skin and act as a deterrent to natural predators, such as birds and snakes.

The Sagalla caecilian uses its sperm to fertilize the egg inside the body of the female. The female lays the eggs and guards them until they hatch. Egg clusters of have been found and it is believed anywhere from 2 up to 100 eggs are laid by a single adult female.

Image Caption: Caecilian (Caeciliidae). Credit: Dawson/Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 2.5)