Family Friday

Rhyacotritonidae – Torrent Salamanders

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Photo by James Bettaso, U.S. Fish & Wildlife service

Number of Genera: 1 – Rhyacotriton
Number of Species: 4 – Cascade Torrent Salamander (Rhyacotriton cascadae), Columbia Torrent Salamander (Rhyacotriton kezeri), Olympic Torrent Salamander (Rhyacotriton olympicus), and Southern Torrent Salamander (Rhyacotriton variegatus)

There are only four species of salamanders in this small family. The Torrent Salamanders used to be part of the Mole Salamander family (Ambystomatidae), then moved to Pacific Giant Salamander family (Dicamptodontidae), and finally moved to it’s own family – Rhyacotritonidae .  The family is found in the Northwestern United States (California, Oregon, Washington). There was originally only one species of Torrent Salamanders but it was split into four distinct species. The Torrent Salamanders are found in cold streams, which is how they got their name.

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Cascade Torrent Salamander, photo by William Flaxington

The Cascade Torrent Salamander is found in Northern Oregon and Southern Washington along the Western slopes of the Cascades. It is listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

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Columbia Spotted Torrent Salamander, photo by Will Flaxington

The Columbia Torrent Salamander is found along the coast of Southern Washington and Northern Oregon. It is listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN.

The Olympic Torrent Salamander is found in the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. It is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN.

The Southern Torrent Salamander is found along the coast of Oregon and Northern California. It’s listed as Least Threatened by the IUCN.

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