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 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.