Other Amphibian of the Week

Coastal Giant Salamander (Dicamptodon tenebrosus)

Dicamptodon tenebrsosus - Pacific Giant Salamander
photo by John P. Clare

Common Name: Coastal Giant Salamander
Scientific Name: Dicamptodon tenebrosus
Family: Dicamptodontidae – Pacific Giant Salamander family
Location: Canada and United States
US Locations: Washington, California, and Oregon
Size: 2.5 to 6.75 inches (6.25 – 17 cm); record length – 13 inches (34 cm)

The Coastal Giant Salamander is one of the largest terrestrial salamanders in the world. Capable of reaching over a foot long, they are beastly. Besides just being large, they are decent climbers, capable of reaching heights around 8 feet high. They also are burrowers and they can dig 20 feet down. Wow there’s not much these guys can’t do.

They are also furious predators and eat mice, shrews, other amphibians, etc. They won’t try to eat a human but they do have a nasty bite, so watch your hands. The Coastal Giant Salamander will bark or growl at you first if you are pissing it off. It’s one of the handful of salamanders that vocalize.

photo by Arie van der Meijden

The salamanders mate in spring, mostly in May, and later in upper elevations. The salamanders will travel from their terrestrial hideouts into the streams. The males will lay their sperm in the water in a good nesting area. The female will pick up the sperm in her cloaca and fertilize the eggs inside of her. Then, the female will lay between 100 – 200 eggs at this nesting site. The females are active parents and will protect their eggs from predators. She will protect them until they hatch, six or seven months later. Even crazier, they won’t eat the entire time!

While they are listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as Least Concern, they do face some serious threats. The biggest threat is the logging industry. Logging destroys their terrestrial habitats and also pollutes the streams that they breed in.

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