Table of Contents
ISRN Zoology
Volume 2012, Article ID 269690, 7 pages
Research Article

First Reproductive Observations for Herpele Peters, 1880 (Amphibia: Gymnophiona: Herpelidae): Evidence of Extended Parental Care and Maternal Dermatophagy in H. squalostoma (Stutchbury, 1836)

1Project Cameroon Herpetology, Conservation Biology Foundation, Yaoundé, Cameroon
2Zoological Society of London, London NW1 4RY, UK
3Department of Life Sciences, The Natural History Museum, London SW7 5BD, UK

Received 25 September 2012; Accepted 18 October 2012

Academic Editors: A. Arslan and B. A. Young

Copyright © 2012 Marcel T. Kouete et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


An adult (presumably female) Herpele squalostoma was found attending 16 young in Cameroon. Four young that were preserved one day after collection have multicusped teeth and skin-like material in their gut. The adult and remaining young were maintained in captivity without provision of food for one month. During this period the young gained more than 10% in mass. Twenty-nine days after collection one additional young was preserved, this has adult-like dentition. We conclude that H. squalostoma resembles the oviparous caecilians Boulengerula taitanus and Siphonops annulatus in having young that receive extended parental care and that remove and eat the stratum corneum of maternal skin using specialized deciduous teeth. This discovery matches a prediction that maternal dermatophagy is widespread (and homologous) among teresomatan caecilians.