Dermophis mexicanus 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Amphibia Gymnophiona Dermophiidae

Scientific Name: Dermophis mexicanus
Species Authority: (Duméril & Bibron, 1841)
Common Name(s):
English Mexican Caecilian
Spanish Tapalcua
Dermophis eburatus Taylor, 1968
Dermophis septentrionalis Taylor, 1968
Gymnophis clarkii Barbour, 1926
Siphonops mexicanus Duméril & Bibron, 1841
Taxonomic Source(s): Frost, D.R. 2013. Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 5.6 (9 January 2013). Electronic Database. American Museum of Natural History, New York, USA. Available at:
Taxonomic Notes: The conspecificity of the disjunct populations needs to be assessed.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2ac ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-01-01
Assessor(s): Santos-Barrera, G., Wake, M., Measey, J. & Wilkinson, M.
Reviewer(s): Stuart, S.N., Chanson, J.S., Cox, N.A. & Young, B.E.
Listed as Vulnerable because of a population decline, estimated to be possibly more than 30% over the last ten years, inferred from observed decline at known sites, shrinkage in distribution, and habitat destruction and degradation.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2004 Vulnerable (VU)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is found on the Atlantic slope of southeastern Mexico and disjunctive in eastern Guatemala and northwestern Honduras. It also occurs patchily on the Pacific slope from Oaxaca, Mexico, through Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to central Nicaragua. It ranges from near sea level to 1200m asl.
Countries occurrence:
El Salvador; Guatemala; Honduras; Mexico; Nicaragua
Upper elevation limit (metres): 1200
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This species was once common in parts of its range, it is now much diminished in areas of previous abundance (such as near San Marcos, Guatemala) (Marvalee Wake pers. comm., 2007). It is possible that this species may have declined considereably more than 30% over the past ten years or three generation, this is likley to be a conservative estimate (Marvalee Wake pers. comm., 2007). There have been no new records for in Veracruz and Tabasco since around the 1950s, although there has been limited collecting in these areas (Marvalee Wake pers. comm., 2007).
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species lives in humid to dry soils beneath leaf-litter, logs, banana or coffee leaves and hulls or similar ground cover. In El Salvador it is present in dry forest and savanna between sea level and 900m asl (Köhler et al., 2006). It is adaptable to secondary habitats. It is a viviparous species.
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: It appears occasionally in trade in small numbers.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): It is an adaptable species but threatened by habitat loss, and changes in agricultural methods (such as the transformation of shaded coffee plantations to open plantations). It is confused with snakes in some areas, and so it persecuted locally. It sometimes appears in the international pet trade, but not at a level to constitute a threat to the species.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It occurs in many protected areas. This species is protected by Mexican law under the "Special Protection" category (Pr).

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.5. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
suitability: Suitable  
1. Forest -> 1.6. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland
suitability: Suitable  
1. Forest -> 1.9. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Montane
suitability: Unknown  
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.3. Artificial/Terrestrial - Plantations
suitability: Suitable  
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.4. Artificial/Terrestrial - Rural Gardens
suitability: Suitable  
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.6. Artificial/Terrestrial - Subtropical/Tropical Heavily Degraded Former Forest
suitability: Suitable  
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.3. Agro-industry farming
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Research -> 1.1. Taxonomy
1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

♦  Pets/display animals, horticulture
 International : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Ducey, P.K., Formanowicz, Jr, D.R., Boyet, L., Mailloux, J. and Nussbaum, R.A. 1993. Experimental examination of burrowing behavior in caecilians (Amphibia: Gymnophiona): effects of soil compaction on burrowing ability of four species. Herpetologica: 450-457.

Exbrayat, J.-M. and Hraoui-Bloquet, S. 1994. An example of heterochrony: The metamorphosis in Gymnophiona. Bulletin de la Société Zoologique de France: 117-126.

Gower, D.J. and Wilkinson, M. 2005. Conservation biology of caecilian amphibians. Conservation Biology 19(1): 45-55.

IUCN. 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: (Accessed: 5 October 2008).

Köhler, G., Veselý, M. and Greenbaum, E. 2006. The Amphibians and Reptiles of El Salvador. Krieger Publishing Company, Malabar, Florida.

Savage, J.M. and Wake, M.H. 1972. Geographic variation and systematics of the Middle American caecilians, genera Dermophis and Gymnopis. Copeia: 680-695.

Savage, J.M. and Wake, M.H. 2001. Reevaluation of the status of taxa of Central American caecilians (Amphibia: Gymnophiona), with comments on their origin and evolution. Copeia: 52-64.

Taylor, E.H. 1968. The Caecilians of the World. A Taxonomic Review. University of Kansas Press, Lawrence, Kansas.

Wake, M.H. 1980. Reproduction, growth, and population structure of the central American caecilian Dermophis mexicanus. Herpetologica: 244-256.

Wake, M.H. 1998. Dermophis oaxacae (Mertens). Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles: 1-2.

Citation: Santos-Barrera, G., Wake, M., Measey, J. & Wilkinson, M. 2008. Dermophis mexicanus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T59545A11961418. . Downloaded on 25 November 2015.
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