Name: Western Redback Salamander (Plethodon vehiculum)
Order: Salamanders (Caudata)
Family: Lungless Salamanders (Plethodontidae)
What they look like
- Are black with back strip that is usually red or tannish that goes all the way to the end of the tail with very defined, even edges.
- Sides are dark with speckles of white.
- Underside is dark with flecks of white, orange or yellow.
Where they live
- View a map of where they live.
- In Washington State are found west of the Cascades mountains
- Prefer to be under rotting logs or rocks near small streams or springs in damp mountain forests
- They are found up to 1,250 feet in elevation (higher elevation than any other species in this family) on rocky and steep mountain slopes.
- Can be found in drier locations when other species of salamanders are present.
- Breeding season is November to March.
- Eggs are most likely laid in underground burrows or under rocks or logs and protected by the female, although there have been a few circumstance when the male has been found protecting eggs.
- Females only lay eggs every other year.
- Eggs hatch into tiny salamanders, skipping the aquatic larval stage.
Cool Biology Facts
- The name vehiculum comes from the word ‘vehicle’ and is a reference to the fact that the male actually carries the female while she clings to his tail during courtship.
- They use chemical cues to choose mates during breeding.
- Western-red backed salamanders do not defend their territories.
- There are currently no major threats. View their status on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.