Name: Cope's Giant Salamander (Dicamptodon copei)
Order: Salamanders (Caudata)
Family: Giant Salamanders (Dicamptodontidae)
What they look like
- 2- 20cm
- Larvae and adults in the aquatic form are brown, sometimes with patches of yellow or tan
- They have short, bushy gills, and have many small white skin glands all over the body.
- Their undersides are often blue-gray.
- Only a few metamorphosed adults have ever been found
Where they live
- View a map of where they live.
- Copes giant salamanders are only found in the Pacific Northwest. In Washington State they are found in the Olympic and the Cascade Mountains and Willapa Hills of southern Washington
- Prefer clear, cold mountain streams in damp forests.
- They spend most days under rocks in the streams, but move about openly on the stream bottom in the evenings.
- Eggs are laid is spring and fall under rocks or logs in streams in hidden spots and are protected by the female.
- Eggs are white and laid one at a time and attached to the wall of the nest site. Eggs can take up to 200 days before hatching.
Cool Biology Facts
- Cope's giant salamanders usually mature and reproduce in the almost entirely in their aquatic form without metamorphosing into terrestrial adults. This is called paedomorphosis or neoteny
- This happens because most individuals do not respond to the hormones that normally would trigger metamorphosis in other salamanders.
- In lab studies, thyroid treatments have shown to trigger metamorphosis.
- Main threats include habitat destruction from logging and habitat loss. View their status on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.