lizbrownlee – poet

Poems, animal info, extraordinary women, my books!

C is for Caecilian #A-Z Challenge

Dick Culbert caecilian

 

This photo of a caecilian is by Dick Culbert on Flikr. An extremely unusual sighting!

Caecilians are mysterious creatures, they are very rarely seen as they spend their entire lives underground. They are limbless amphibians with a backbone and are most nearly related to newts, despite the fact they look very like worms! They inhabit the wet tropical regions of Africa, south east Asia and south America.

They come in all sorts of colours, which is strange as they are completely blind or nearly blind and live in the dark, and range in size from 7cm up to 5ft.

Some of them have an unusual method of feeding their young – they own a fat, nutrient-rich skin that grows newly every 3 days which their larvae peel off and eat. In between growing a new skin, they secrete food from a gland at the end of their tail which their young lick.

They do not burrow in the same way that snakes or worms burrow. Their skeleton and deep muscles act as a type of piston inside the outer skin and muscles, so they ramrod their way through the earth by banging their heads against it and pulling themselves along into the space created.

Like snakes they have lungs, with their left lung being much reduced to fit their slim shape.

Caecilians are the only amphibians to possess tentacles – a small pair between their eyes and nostrils – it is not known for sure what these do, but they are probably a secondary way of detecting food by smell or taste.

Here is my caecilian poem:

.

The Caecilian

.

A caecilian is concealed –

it’s subterranean,

just tunnels through the earth

using its cranium,

it’s snakey and it’s wormy

but it’s not a snake or worm,

and it holds itself quite straight

as it digs without a squirm,

it bashes with its bonce

while it’s exploring;

you’d think its head would ache

to be so boring!

.

© Liz Brownlee

.

Information:

BBC.

Wikipedia.

Photo by Dick Culbert on Flikr via creative commons license.

Poem © Liz Brownlee, not for reproduction.

42 Comments

  1. Very interesting. The color is awesome, Aw! What nature brings:)

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  2. I love caecilians! I love herps, but I’m particularly interested in the ones that aren’t so well-known and not very common as pets.

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    • Yes – I’m not sure you could have a caecilian as a pet it probably hurt itself on the edges of its tank…!

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  3. Really interesting post, Liz. I love the poem as well. It us strange the way they feed and travel. Can’t wait for D.

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    • That is very satisfying, Eve! *Tries to remember what ‘D’ is and fails…*

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  4. He he! What an amazing creature!

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  5. Hi Liz – another great post… but you do know you’re a day early, don’t you? Sundays are non-A-Z blog days. 🙂

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    • Oh! What a twit! Ah, well, maybe I’ll do another, probably won’t have time, though! I am useless, I shall have to go and change all the times of the postings now!

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  6. Great poem, Liz – it made me smile. You’d think those tentacles would be squashed as well as them getting a headache!

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    • Thanks, Liz! You would, wouldn’t you? They aren’t very well studied so you never know, perhaps they retract them or something.

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  7. Hi there!

    I’m stopping by from the #AtoZChallenge. I’ve never heard of this creature…interesting post!

    I have two blogs in this challenge…my author blog at THE STORY CATCHER (www.donnalmartin.com) and my KICKS Kids Club blog (www.kickskidsclub.blogspot.com) . If you get a chance, check them out and good luck with the challenge!

    Donna L Martin

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  8. Okay, these things are really cool…although, the thought of a 5 ft one is a bit daunting.

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    • I know! I couldn’t find a Creative Commons picture of a 5ft one… might try again!

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      • I remember reading about giant earthworms in Australia…I know they’re entirely different species, but I can’t help but thing about them. Apparently, you can feel them moving underground.

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      • Oooh, just imagine standing on earth that undulates… I must read about giant earthworms, I wonder if they also come to the surface during rain and make giant worm casts?

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  9. Wow! The feeding part is amazing.

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    • Isn’t it just? I’ve never heard of that behaviour before in anything.

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  10. I have never heard of these strange creatures. They do look like worms and that is the weirdest way to feed their young. Love the poem and the ending is funny because it would be kind of boring…to live like that.

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    • Hi Birgit! Being slightly claustrophobic, I can’t think of anything worse…

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  11. scary too 😉

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  12. Congrats on yet another year with the A-Z Blog Challenge!
    Beth Lapin
    Activities for a Good Life
    https://bethlapinsatozblog.wordpress.com/

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  13. Sure sound like they know how to adapt. Some of it is rather gross though, shedding, blah lol

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    • Afraid so! Handy though… not sure it’ll catch on!

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  14. Mom’s skin for breakfast? Oh my. I blogged about strange creature today as well, but mine aren’t real.

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    • Aaah! I’ll come and have a look. I suspect much inspiration could come from real creatures!

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  15. Such a fascinating post. You have a lovely blog. Thank you so much for sharing, and warm greetings from Montreal, Canada. 🙂

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    • Hello Linda! Thank you. I’ve been to Canada, but the other side, Vancouver and The Cascade Mountains where my husband was editing a film about bears with the Canadian wildlife producers Jeff and Sue Turner. We often talk about it, it was fabulous couple of months!

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  16. Wow! It looks like a large worm! Are they related/ the same thing?
    @AllysePanaro from
    The Frog Lady

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  17. I think I could live without encountering this… Just a bit too much on the creepy scale for me.

    Mary
    Literary Gold – Free and Bargain priced books
    Jingle Jangle Jungle

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    • Yes, I’m pretty sure there are many of us that wouldn’t want to meet one. But they probably do have a job in the circle of life where they do live – aerating and fertilising the soil etc so plants can thrive.

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  18. My little guy (5-yrs-old) and I had fun reading this together!

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