Name: Northwestern Salamander (Ambystoma gracile)
Order: Salamanders (Caudata)
Family: Mole Salamanders (Ambystomatidae)
What they look like
- Large with short rounded heads and large paratoid glands behind eyes.
- Have a thick glandular region on the upper part of their tail and ridged lines along the sides of their body
- Dark brown, gray or black; sometimes have flecks of cream or yellow.
Where they live
- View a map of where they live.
- The Northwestern salamander is restricted to the Pacific coast of North America. In Washington State they are found west of the cascades, including Whidbey, Bainbridge and Vashon islands.
- Found in a variety of moist habitats including open grasslands, woodlands and forests near freshwater sources.
- Spend most of their time underground or under rotting logs.
- Breeding season is Feb-April. In the high elevations of the Cascades, breeding frequently starts in late spring, from June to August.
- Eggs masses are attached to underwater plants and grasses and are hard to the touch.
- Egg masses accumulate algae that grow on the inside of the eggs, giving them a green color.
- Larvae mature in 12-14 months. In higher elevations, the larvae often overwinter twice and will mature over three seasons.
- Neotonic adults are common and the frequency of occurrence increases with elevation levels.
Cool Biology Facts
- Larvae and terrestrial adults are mildly poisonous, because of this they can generally survive alongside predatory species, even introduced fish and species such as bullfrogs.
- When disturbed, make a ticking sound and get into a defensive posture.
- They butt heads and raise tails while emitting a sticky white poison from glands behind eyes and along back and tail when threatened and lash tails to spread the poison.
- Main threats are habitat destruction and deforestation. View their status on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.