Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

Scolecomorphus kirkii is the largest species of Scolecomorphus; adults range from 215-463 mm in length. There are 130-152 primary annuli. Dorsally, the coloration is lavender-gray; this coloration extends ventrally so that it encroaches on the sides of the venter. Midventral surfaces are flesh or cream colored. The top and sides of the head are dark, but a light area is visible along the tentacle tract. Eyes are located on the tentacles, which allows the eyes to be projected outside the skull when the tentacles are extruded, and the black retina is visible through the skin and skull bones.

  • Nussbaum, R. A. (2003). ''Kirk's caecilian, Scolecomorphus kirkii.'' Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Volume 6, Amphibians. 2nd edition. M. Hutchins, W. E. Duellman, and N. Schlager, eds., Gale Group, Farmington Hills, Michigan.
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Etymology

This species is named for the collector, Sir. J. Kirk.

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Summary

The eyes are connected to the globulate tentacles and were the first described vertebrate with protrusable eyes. The visual acuity is thought to be low, only capable of helping determine light and dark areas when on the surface (Text from Harper et al., 2010).

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Distribution

Range Description

This species is known from the mountains of southern Malawi east of the Shire Valley (with no records yet from Mount Mulanje, although it is likely to occur there), and in Tanzania from the Nguru, Rubeho, Uluguru, Mahenge and Udzungwa Mountains, and the Southern Highland (Ubena). There has been a recent possible record (not mapped) from northern Mozambique, close to known Malawian sites. Its altitudinal range is not fully known, though it is generally montane, but occurs at lower elevations in some places (down to around 500m asl).
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Distribution and Habitat

Scolecomorphus kirkii occurs in Eastern equatorial Africa in Malawi and Tanzania. These caecilians inhabit tropical rainforest and agricultural areas in mountainous regions. They are found in surface litters and soils.

  • Nussbaum, R. A. (2003). ''Kirk's caecilian, Scolecomorphus kirkii.'' Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Volume 6, Amphibians. 2nd edition. M. Hutchins, W. E. Duellman, and N. Schlager, eds., Gale Group, Farmington Hills, Michigan.
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This species is known from mountains of Malawi and Mozambique, as well as the Ubena and Mahenge highlands, Nguru, Rubeho, Uluguru, North Pare and Udzungwa Mountains of Tanzania (Harper et al., 2010).

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Physical Description

Morphology

The following is from the original description by Boulenger (1883):

Scolecomorphus, g. n.
Squamosals separated from parietals. A single series of teeth in the lower jaw. Eyes overroofed by bone. Tentacle flap-shaped, situated below and slightly behind the nostril. No scales.

Scolecomorphus kirkii, sp. n.
Teeth very small, subequal. Snout very prominent, rounded. Tentacle on a large oval swelling situated on the lower surface of the snout. Body slender; 152 circular folds, all interrupted on the dorsal and ventral lines. Tail indistinct, rounded. Dark olive above, brownish olive beneath. Total length 270 millim.; greatest diameter of 7 millim.

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Size

Males are 163 – 312 mm and females 288 – 463 mm in snout-vent length (Harper et al., 2010).

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Diagnostic Description

The dorsum is an olive brown color which extends part way down the sides, which are pink to the ventrum in some individuals. Females are larger than males. Primary annuli range from 130 – 142 in males and 140–152 in females (Text from Harper et al., 2010).

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Look Alikes

Comparisons

This species resembles S. uluguruensis and S. vittatus (Text from Harper et al., 2010).

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It is a species that lives in the soil in montane, submontane and lowland forest, but which also survives in cultivated areas and villages. There are records from Iringa town in the Udzungwa Mountains. If its breeding is similar to that of other species of Scolecomorphus, it is a viviparous species, not dependent on water.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Habitat and Ecology

This species is found in the soil and leaf litter of the forest and within loose soil on small farms at elevations between 500 and 1400 m (Text from Harper et al., 2010).

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Associations

Adults eat earthworms, termites and other macroinvertebrates (Harper et al., 2010).

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Modes and Mechanisms of Locomotion

This species is fossorial, or burrowing.

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Reproduction

This species is ssumed to give live birth to live young, which are probably nurtured by the mother (Text from Harper et al., 2010).

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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2004

Assessor/s
Simon Loader, Lovemore Mazibuko, Mark Wilkinson

Reviewer/s
Global Amphibian Assessment Coordinating Team (Simon Stuart, Janice Chanson and Neil Cox)

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Least Concern in view of its reasonably wide distribution, tolerance of a degree of habitat modification, presumed large population, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category.
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IUCN Red List Category and Justification of Conservation Status

The IUCN Redlist (2010) categorizes this as Least Concern in view of its reasonably wide distribution, tolerance of a degree of habitat modification, presumed large population, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category.

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Population

Population
There is no direct information.

Population Trend
Unknown
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Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

These caecilians are efficient burrowers. The diet consists of arthropods, with soil also being found in the guts. This species is viviparous.

  • Nussbaum, R. A. (2003). ''Kirk's caecilian, Scolecomorphus kirkii.'' Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Volume 6, Amphibians. 2nd edition. M. Hutchins, W. E. Duellman, and N. Schlager, eds., Gale Group, Farmington Hills, Michigan.
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Threats

Major Threats
It appears not to be a threatened species. It appears in the international pet trade, but not at a level to constitute a threat to the species.
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Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

Not threatened.

  • Nussbaum, R. A. (2003). ''Kirk's caecilian, Scolecomorphus kirkii.'' Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Volume 6, Amphibians. 2nd edition. M. Hutchins, W. E. Duellman, and N. Schlager, eds., Gale Group, Farmington Hills, Michigan.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
It occurs in the Udzungwa National Park, Tanzania.
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Wikipedia

Lake Tanganyika caecilian

The Lake Tanganyika caecilian, Scolecomorphus kirkii, is a species of caecilian in the Scolecomorphidae family found in Malawi and Tanzania. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, subtropical or tropical moist montane forests, plantations, rural gardens, urban areas, and heavily degraded former forests.

References

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