Other Amphibian of the Week

Anderson’s Salamander (Ambystoma andersoni)

anderson's salamander
Anderson’s Salamander by Henk Wallays
critically endangered

Common Names: Anderson’s Salamander, Achoque
Scientific Name: Ambystoma andersoni
Family: Ambystomatidae – Mole Salamander family
Locations: Mexico
Size: 4 – 5.5 inches (100 – 140 mm)

The Anderson’s Salamander lives in the Laguna de Zacapu in the Mexican state of Michoacán at elevations of over 6500 feet (2000 meters). They are a neotenic species of salamander, keeping their larval features, such as their gills, throughout their life. This means they are fully aquatic and never leave the water. Don’t confuse this guy with the Axolotl. While both are found in Mexico, the Axolotl was found near Mexico City.

The Anderson’s Salamander is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Introduced predatory fish have been eating them and people also eat them. The area around the lake is used for tourism and agriculture, creating pollution problems. These problems must be solved to keep the salamanders around.

Other Amphibian of the Week

Frosted Flatwoods Salamander (Ambystoma cingulatum)

Frosted Flatwoods Salamander
photo by Todd Pierson

Common Name: Frosted Flatwoods Salamander
Scientific Name: Ambystoma cingulatum
Family: Ambystomatidae – Mole Salamander family
Locations: United States – Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina
Size: 3.5 – 5.3 inches (9-13.5 cm)

The Frosted Flatwoods Salamander is a medium sized salamander found in the coastal plains of the southeast United States. They are listed as a federally threatened species by the federal government. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the salamander as Vulnerable to Extinction. The longleaf pine-wiregrass flatwoods that the salamanders love our being cut down. To keep these salamanders from becoming extinct, we need to protect their habitats better.

All the Flatwoods Salamanders used to be one species before they were split apart, leaving the Frosted Flatwoods Salamander and the Reticulated Flatwoods Salamander (Ambystoma bishopi) as distinct species. The Reticulated Flatwoods Salamander is a federally endangered species.

photo by Todd Pierson

The Frosted Flatwoods Salamander is a fossorial species of salamander, spending most of their life underground or in burrows. They come to the surface to travel to wetlands to breed, some even traveling a mile away. Breeding takes place during the fall to winter (October to February) for the salamander. After mating, the females lay their eggs in a depression near a body of water. Once a rain starts, the eggs will hatch.

Other Amphibian of the Week

Red Hills Salamander (Phaeognathus hubrichti)

Red Hills Salamander - Phaeognathus hubrichti
photo by  John P. Clare
Conservation status is Endangered

Common Name: Red Hills Salamander
Scientific Name: Phaeognathus hubrichti
Family: Plethodontidae – Lungless Salamander family
Locations: United States – Alabama
Size:  10.5 inches (27 cm)

The Red Hills Salamander is the state amphibian of Alabama, the only state it can be found in. More specifically, it lives in the Red Hills region of southern Alabama, hence the name. They belong to the family Plethodontidae, the lungless salamanders, so they lack lungs. They stay underground most of their life, making them a fossorial species of salamander. Most of their life history is unknown due to them being fossorial.

What is known is that the Red Hills Salamander does not breed in water, but in their burrows. No mating displays or actually breeding as been observed. Females lay around 6-16 eggs at a time. The eggs hatch in around two months into tiny salamanders.

While the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the salamander as endangered, the federal United States government only lists them as threatened. Because of this, most of their land is privately owned by paper companies, that clear cut their habitat for the wood. Luckily, the Nature Conservatory bought almost 2,000 acres of land to protect the salamanders.

Other Amphibian of the Week

California Giant Salamander (Dicamptodon ensatus)

photo by William Flaxington

Common Name: California Giant Salamander
Scientific Name: Dicamptodon ensatus
Family: Dicamptodontidae – Pacific Giant Salamander Family
Locations: United States – California
Size: 6.7 – 12 inches (17 – 30.48 cm) for terrestrial forms, 13 inches (33.02 cm) for aquatic

The California Giant Salamander is found in northwestern coastal forests of California with cold streams and ponds. They use these streams to breed during the spring with most of the egg laying in May. Breeding could also occur in the fall. Between 70 to 100 eggs are laid in the streams. Larvae salamanders can take up to 2 years to develop into terrestrial adults if they ever do. There has been observed neotenic populations of the California Giant Salamanders. These neotenic salamanders retain their larval characteristics such as their gills but are capable of reproduction. These guys are often larger than the terrestrial forms.

Arie van der Meijden

The California Giant Salamander is listed as as Near Threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. The main threats to the survival of the salamander is the encroachment of humans on their small habitat. Their habitat is great for logging but logging is not good for the salamanders. Also towns are growing and need more land. They just build right over their habitat.

Other Amphibian of the Week

Dwarf Waterdog (Necturus punctatus)

photo by Todd Pierson

least concern
Common Name: Dwarf Waterdog
Scientific Name: Necturus punctatus
Family: Proteidae
Locations: United States – Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia
Size: 7.5 inches

The Dwarf Waterdog is the smallest species of genus Necturus. Like all members of the species, they are aquatic and keep their gills throughout their life. Not much is known about the reproductive behaviors of the waterdog but it is believed they mate in winter. The eggs are later laid in spring from March to May. The females lay around 15 to 50 eggs. Nothing is known about nesting sites, how long it takes the eggs to hatch, or any courtship behaviors.

Other Amphibian of the Week

Varagua Caecilian (Gymnopis multiplicata)

photo by Todd Pierson

least concern
Common Name: Varagua Caecilian
Scientific Name: Gymnopis multiplicata
Family: Dermophiidae
Locations: Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama
Size: 2 inches

Like most caecilian species, the Varagua Caecilian is a mysterious species of caecilian that not much is known about. They are a fossorial species, spending most of their time underground, even up to 3 meters deep. The Varagua Caecilian is thought to be viviparous, giving birth to live young. The offspring feed off the nutrient secretions from the mother after they use up the yolk while still inside of the mother. The offspring complete metamorphosis while still inside the mother. The mothers are pregnant for 11 months before giving birth.



Other Amphibian of the Week

Great Crested Newt (Triturus cristatus)

Great Crested Newt
photo by Rainer Theuer
least concern

Common Name: Northern Crested Newt, Great Crested Newt, and Warty Newt
Scientific Name: Triturus cristatus
Family: Salamandridae
Locations: Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom
Size: 6 inches (15.24 cm)

The Great Crested Newt is named after the crested that males grow during breeding season. The breeding season takes place during the spring to summer when the newts wake up from their hibernation. The newts move back to the ponds where they hatched to breed. The males will perform courtship rituals to try to attract a female to mate with. Females lay around 200 eggs during a breeding season. After breeding, the newts move back to land and the males lose their crests. They are often found under rocks and logs during this time.

photo by Maciej Bonk

While the Great Crested Newt is listed as Least Concern by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, their populations are declining fast. The European Union has listed them as the protected species to help save them. The main reason for their decline is believed to be habitat loss due to development for urban areas.

Other Amphibian of the Week

Misty Salamander (Hynobius nebulosus)

photo by Henk Wallays

least concern
Common Name: Misty Salamander, Clouded Salamander
Scientific Name: Hynobius nebulosus
Family: Hynobiidae – Asiatic Salamander Family
Location: Japan
Size: 5 inches total length

The Misty Salamander is found only in Japan on the islands of Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu, and on Ikishima. During the mating season, males stake out territory and will defend them from other males. This defense includes biting and tail wagging. If a male salamander can’t get a decent territory, they will become what scientists call a sneaker. These sneakers will wait around a different males territory until the other male is mating with female. The sneaker tries to sneak in and and fertilize the female’s eggs.

Other Amphibian of the Week

Bell’s False Brook Salamander (Isthmura bellii)

Bell's False Brook Salamander
photo by Sean Michael Rovito

Common Name: Bell’s False Brook Salamander or Bell’s Salamander
Scientific Name: Isthmura bellii
Family: Plethodontidae – Lungless Salamanders
Location: Mexico
Size: 14 inches (36 cm)

The Bell’s False Brook Salamander is the largest salamander in the family Plethodontidae – the Lungless Salamander. As the family name suggests, the salamander lacks lungs and breaths through its skin. It is also one of the largest terrestrial salamanders in the world. They live mostly under logs and rocks in pine and pine oak forests. Surprisingly, the salamanders also lives in arid, tropical scrub land. These guys only come out at night to eat, making them nocturnal.

The salamander was originally placed in the genus Pseudoeurycea, the False Brook Salamanders. Pseudo = false, eurycea = brook. They were moved to a new genus Isthmura due to boring taxonomy stuff. Due to changing their genus, the salamanders can just be called Bell’s Salamander.

Once, researchers recognized two subspecies of the salamander. P. b. sierraoccidentalis is found along the border of the states of Sonora and Chihuahua in the northwestern part of Mexico. The other subspecies, P. b. bellii, is found in central Mexico and further down. These subspecies have now been elevated to full species status.

The Bell’s False Brook Salamander is a highly terrestrial species, not even needing water for reproduction! The females lay up to 20 eggs directly on land. The eggs eventually hatch and mini salamanders come out. They are a direct developing species, skipping the aquatic larvae stage.

Bell's False Brook Salamander
photo by Sean Michael Rovito

Bell’s False Brook Salamander Conservation

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Bell’s False Brook Salamander as Vulnerable to Extinction. Their habitat is being cut down to make room for farms and cities. Also logging is happening in their habitat which disturbs the salamanders. Better protections are needed to help save the species.

Other Amphibian of the Week

Ringed Salamander (Ambystoma annulatum)

Ringed Salamander
photo by Peter Paplanus
least concern

Common Name: Ringed Salamander
Scientific Name: Ambystoma annulatum
Family: Ambystomatidae – Mole Salamander family
Locations: Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma
Size: 10 inches (25.4 cm) max, generally 5.5  to 7 inches (14 – 18 cm)

The Ringed Salamander lives in the Ozark Plateau and Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. Like most salamanders of the family Ambystomatidae, they spend most of their time hidden under ground, leaves, or logs. This is called a fossorial lifestyle. People refer to the family as the mole salamanders, due to their burrowing nature. Their diet includes earthworms, insects, and snails.

Ringed Salamander Mating

The best time to see the Ringed Salamander is in fall from September to November, when they come out to breed. October is the best month to see them. This is when they are the most active breeding. Hundreds of individuals come to shallow, fish-less ponds to avoid any predators. Once courtship occurs, the male releases a spermatophore on the bottom of the pond. Then, the female picks it up with her cloaca. Finally, the female lays her eggs a few days later. The females lays between 5 and 40 eggs on the bottom of the pond. The mother provides no care for her offspring. Eggs hatch anywhere from 9 to 16 days. The larval salamander will stay in the pond for 6 – 8 months (May to June) before completing its metamorphosis. Then, they move to land.

Ringed Salamander
photo by Andrew Hoffman


The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Ringed Salamander as Least Concern for Extinction. The IUCN Red List justifies this by stating that the salamander has wide distribution and presumed large population. They assume the population is greater than 10,000 individuals and stable. The state of Oklahoma categorizes the salamander as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need. In Missouri, they are a Species of Conservation Need. People want to fill up their ponds to make room for houses or commercial areas. Better protections of their habitat is needed to keep the Ringed Salamander from becoming endangered.