Van Dyke's Salamander

October 23, 2015
Heidi Rockney and Karen Wu
Van Dyke's Salamander

Van Dyke's Salamander Photo: Dennis Paulson

Name: Van Dyke's Salamander (Plethodon vandykei)
Order: Salamanders (Caudata)
Family: Lungless Salamanders (Plethodontidae)

What they look like

  • 4.5-10cm
  • Have large paratoid glands behind their eyes.
  • Three different color variants exist: yellow/orange; rose/salmon; or yellow striped with dark colored sides (usually black).
  • Chins are generally lighter in color.

Where they live

  • View a map of where they live.
  • Are only found in Washington State in the Olympic Mountains, southern Cascade Mountains and Willapa Hills area.
  • Prefer the sides of streams under rocks and rotting logs in mountain forests.
  • Can be found in open unforested areas if sufficiently damp and are common in cave openings under rocks.


  • Breeding season and egg laying is in Spring and eggs usually hatch by fall.
  • Female guards the eggs until hatching.
  • Do not have an aquatic larval stage; they hatch straight into small fully formed salamanders.

Cool Biology Facts

  • The color differences might be associated with different levels of elevation and temperature.
  • Live in scattered isolated populations.


  • They are extremely sensitive to habitat changes due to logging. They currently are in two protected areas: Olympic National Park and Mt. St. Helens National Monument. View their status on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Distribution Map

Map of Van Dyke's 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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