Cascade Torrent Salamander

October 23, 2015
Heidi Rockney and Karen Wu
Cascade Torrent Salamander

Cascade Torrent Salamander.
Photo: Rory Telemeco

Name: Cascade Torrent Salamander (Rhyacotriton cascadae)
Order: Salamanders (Caudata)
Family: Torrent Salamanders (Rhyacotritonidae)

What they look like

  • Up to 10cm
  • Short tails, stubby limbs, fairly short snouts and large eyes.
  • Back is brown or yellow sometimes with smallish black spots.
  • Underside is yellow to orange with many variations of black splotches.
  • Each population has unique markings; some have gray specks on their chin and others may have very distinct black marking along their sides.
  • Males have large square lobes behind their cloaca.

Where they live

  • View a map of where they live.
  • In Washington State are found from the Columbia River Gorge to just north of Mt. St. Helens.
  • Rely heavily on water and are often found at least partially submerged in water at stream edges under rocks or gravel in mountain forest
  • Prefer slow moving streams.
  • Heavy rains can bring them onto land, but they never stray far from the water’s edge.


  • Breeding is between October and July, eggs are laid in spring.
  • Eggs are unattached to each other and hidden in streams under rocks.
  • Larvae have small gills and are assumed to take up to four years to go through metamorphosis.

Cool Biology Facts

  • Prefer cold water temperatures and do not adapt to any increase in water temperatures.
  • Have reduced lungs and breathe mostly though their skin.
  • Torrent salamanders can live up to ten years!  It takes about 5-6 years before they reach sexual maturity.


  • Populations are isolated and any changes in their habitat (logging, human habitation) can wipe out these small populations. View their status on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Map of Cascade Torrent Salamander distribution in Washington state. Learn more on the NatureMapping Foundation website.

Explore more of the Amphibians & Reptiles of Washington or check out All About Amphibians.

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