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Sedqwick County Zoo Films Birth of Little-studied Amphibian Species

1 caecilian

On December 12, eight Kaup's Caecilians were born on exhibit at the Sedgwick County Zoo in Kansas! Although they might look like earthworms or little snakes, Caecilians (pronounced seh-SILL-yens) are amphibians, related to frogs and salamanders. They are by far the least familiar group of amphibians for zoo visitors. The births are believed to be the first captive reproduction of this poorly known and virtually unstudied species. 

Ranging throughout the tropics of the Americas, Africa, and Asia, most Caecilians are blind and live entirely underground. However, a few Amazonian species are aquatic, such as the Kaup’s Caecilian. 

2 caecilianPhoto credit: Sedgwick County Zoo

Here's a video of the births. At the end there is a much clearer view of the swimming babies.


Rather than laying eggs, Kaup's Caecilians give birth to live, fully-developed young. The pinkish youngsters were born with large, sac-like gills which quickly detached from their bodies during the birthing process. Unlike the gills of other amphibians, the gills of Kaup's Caecilians are thought to serve a placenta-like function while in the mother's body, and are not used for respiration after birth.

The babies are currently in a behind-the-scenes area. However, the adults can be found in the zoo's Amphibian & Reptile building.