The Western Ghats are home to several species of Caecilians (Gymnophiona).Caecilians are legless, burrowing amphibians which mostly live in leaf litter, loose soil, under rocks and decaying logs. They are also found in agricultural fields and only surface during the monsoon. The body is elongated and smooth with a slimy skin. The smaller caecilians superficially resemble earthworms while the larger ones are often mistaken for snakes. However, they can be told apart from earthworms by the presence of eyes, teeth and skeleton and from snakes by the lack of scales on skin. The eyes in caecilians are not well developed which is most likely to be because of their burrowing life style. They are considered as rare which is apparently due to their subterranean habits. To see them one has to search carefully (usually by digging) and be at the right place and at the right time. There are few places where they are common, but, at least one species was reported to be abundant in agricultural fields in Kerala. The larger caecilians look like snakes but their skin is smooth and not scaly.
The Western Ghats Caecilians
The Western Ghats of India are one of the global biodiversity hotspots, and a centre of caecilian diversity. Of the 26 described species of Caecilians from India, 25 are endemic. From distributional records it is apparent that the hot spot of known caecilian diversity in India is the Western Ghats. Of the 20 currently recognized Western Ghats species, most are known from... Read More