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Amphibians of Washington


Cascade torrent salamander
(Rhyacotriton cascadae)

 

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 othesr may have very distinct black marking along their sides.
  • Males have large square lobes behind their cloaca.

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

  • 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.

Photo

Distribution Map

Threats

Populations are isolated and any changes in their habitat (logging, human habitation) can wipe out these small populations.