Other Amphibian of the Week

Cope’s Giant Salamander (Dicamptodon copei)

Cope's Giant Salamander (Dicamptodon copei)
photo by Brad M. Glorioso

Common Name: Cope’s Giant Salamander
Scientific Name: Dicamptodon copei
Family: Dicamptodontidae – Pacific Giant Salamander family
Location: United States – Oregon and Washington
Size: 2.5 – 4.4 inches (6.5 – 11.4 cm) snout to vent length, 8 inches (20.5 cm) max total length

The Cope’s Giant Salamander is a large salamander found in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Although, it is the smallest of the salamanders in its family. It is usually aquatic as they often never go through metamorphosis, keeping their gills through their life. This is called neoteny. They prefer cold, fast flowing streams in coniferous forests.¬†

Mating and courtship of the salamander has never been seen but its believed to be similar to the other Giant Pacific Salamanders. The eggs are laid mostly in fall and spring under logs or rocks. Females do protect their nest of eggs from predators and can be very aggressive. Nest sizes can be between 25 – 115 eggs. The eggs can take up to 200 days to hatch!

Cope's Giant Salamander (Dicamptodon copei)
photo by William Flaxington

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the salamander as Least Concern for Extinction but its populations aren’t doing great. Since the salamander relies on cold, clear streams, pollution and logging are the biggest threats. The removal of trees that shade the streams increases the water temperature.

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