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Barton Springs Salamander (Eurycea sosorum)

photo by Ryan Hagerty/USFWS

Common Name: Barton Springs Salamander
Scientific Name: Eurycea sosorum
Family: Plethodontidae – Lungless Salamander family
Locations: United States – Texas
Size: 2.5 inches (6.4 cm)

The Barton Springs Salamander is a federally endangered species and listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as Vulnerable to Extinction. They were thought to be found only in the outflows of the Barton Springs in Austin, Texas but a population has been found near Drippings Spring. They are listed due to their small habitat that is sensitive to environmental pollutants. There is a popular naturalistic swimming pool in the Barton Springs that houses the salamanders. While swimming in the water is said not to bother the salamanders, the cleaning of the pool can kill them. The Austin Blind Salamander (Eurycea waterlooensis), another endangered salamander, also lives in the Barton Springs.

Like all members of the family Plethodontidae, the Barton Springs Salamander has no lungs. Unlike most members of the family, the salamander is neotenic and keeps its larval characteristics, most notably, the gills. They are a fully aquatic species of salamander, never leaving the water. The salamanders are found usually under rocks or buried down in the gravel, from several inches to 15 feet deep!

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Other Amphibian of the Week

Frosted Flatwoods Salamander (Ambystoma cingulatum)

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photo by Todd Pierson

vulnerable
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 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.

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 can be found in the Red Hills region of southern Alabama, hence the name. They are a fossorial species of salamander, staying underground most of their life. 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 can lay around 6-16 eggs at a time. Its believed that the eggs hatch in around two months into tiny salamanders.

While the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list lists the salamander as endangered, the United States 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

Misty Salamander (Hynobius nebulosus)

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
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)

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photo by Sean Michael Rovito

vulnerable
Common Name: Bell’s False Brook 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 and one of the largest salamanders in the world. They live mostly under logs and in leaf litter. The Bell’s False Brook Salamander is a direct developing species of salamander, skipping the larvae phase. Because of this, the salamanders don’t need water to reproduce so they lay their eggs on land. Females can lay up to 20 eggs at a time.

Populations of the Bell’s False Brook Salamander is dropping. Their habitat is being destroyed for cities, logging sites, and farms but scientists don’t believe that this is the primary cause of their decline. They are still uncertain about it.

Other Amphibian of the Week

Northern Spectacled Salamander (Salamandrina perspicillata)

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photo by Luca Tringali

leastconcern
Common Name: Northern Spectacled Salamander
Scientific Name: Salamandrina perspicillata
Family: Salamandridae
Location: Italy
Size: 1.3 inches for Snout to Vent, 3.3 inches for Total Length

The Northern and Southern Spectacled Salamander used to be only one species until they were split in 2005 due to genetics. The Northern Spectacled Salamander lives in the northern and central parts of Italy while the Southern Spectacled Salamander lives in the southern part of Italy.

The Northern Spectacled Salamander is a terrestrial species of salamander that is active during the night. They can live up to 15 years. When a predator approaches the salamander, they curl into a ring to show off their red bellies. This shows off that they are not good to eat.