Burke Museum Home

Amphibians of Washington

(Ensatina  eschscholtzii)


What they look like

  • 3.8-8cm
  • They have smooth brown or black skin on their backs and yellow or white on their underside with tiny flecks of black.
  • There is a lot of variety in coloration, but almost all have orange or yellow coloring on the tops of their legs. 
  • Have a swollen tail that is confined at its base. 

Where they live

  • In Washington State they are found west of the Cascade Mountains to the coast.
  • Prefer forested areas, but can be found in clearings and grasslands.
  • Stay under rotting logs, but can wander out on wet nights and during breeding season.
  • They do not need a permanent water source.


  • Breeding season is spring and fall, although at higher elevations breeding can happen in the summer.
  • Eggs are laid under rotting logs and protected by the female.
  • When eggs hatch, small mini-salamanders emerge, skipping the normal aquatic larvae stage.

Cool Biology Facts

  • The males of this species have a swollen upper lip and a longer, skinnier tale than the females.
  • If the weather gets too hot or too cold, they will retreat into underground burrows.
  • When threatened, will ooze a whitish toxic secretion from their tail and often slash their tails at whatever threatened them.


Distribution Map


Main issues are habitat destruction and logging which can change the moisture levels in their habitat.