The tailed amphibians, salamanders and newts, share physical characteristics such as elongated bodies with feet and a tail.
Physical similarities also serve as identifying features among Caudata families, making salamander and newt identification a relatively easy task, compared to finding them. The world's six hundred salamander species account for less than ten per cent of amphibian diversity.
Within order diversity also characterizes Caudata, with two-thirds of the species assigned to a single family, Plethodontidae
Types of Frogs
Types of Snakes
Types of Turtles
Most salamander species inhabit moist forest environments in the northern hemisphere, seeking shelter under rocks, downed limbs and bark.
Rainy spring and fall nights encourage salamanders to come out of hiding and head to local breeding areas, typically ponds and wetlands. Apart from these short territorial movements, salamanders and newts tend to be stationary animals, with limited home ranges.
North America, home to species in nine of the ten salamander families receives credit as the world's salamander capital. Salamander diversity runs highest in the Southeast.
The California Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps attenuatus) is a a small plethodontid salamander found in forested area of Northern California.
They can be found, sometimes in relative abundance, under branches and bark on forest floors.
At first glance, their small size makes it easy to mistake them for worms.
The picture's top down view shows the salamander's dark red skin with small legs on both sides of the upper body. The sides are a speckled gray color.
Ensatinas (eschscholtzii), prominent in the family Plethodontidae, the largest salamander family.
The Oregon Ensatina (eschscholtzii oregonensis) is among the most widely distributed of all West Coast salamanders, which as a group, tend to be more regionally distributed. Populations can be found in forest areas from British Columbia to areas of northern California.
Physically, the Oregon Ensatina has one of the duller colored bodies of ensatina species. The skin is generally a shade of brown and there is a patch of orange skin under the tail.
Painted Ensatina (eschscholtzii picta) is one of the more colorful West Coast ensatinas.
Most species are shaded with a brown to salmon shade of skin, dotted and lined by darker streaks. The picture shows a yellow skinned version.
Looking at the shape of the tail helps differentiate ensatinas from other salamander groups. Although it is not shown in the picture, the base of an ensatina tail starts thin, followed by a more pronounced thicker middle section. Other salamander tails tend to decrease in size gradually from the base to the tip of the tail.
The range of the painted ensatina is limited to forested areas of northern California.
The Pacific Giant Salamander (Dicamptodon tenebrosus) is found along the coast of the Pacific Northwest in forest areas with cold water streams.
Giant is an appropriate name for the salamander because it is the largest in the United States. Full grown adults commonly reach one foot in length, including the tail.
The above picture shows the salamander in its larval stage, in shallow water. It's small gills allow it to breath. The tail help it swim.
Adult species adapt to both aquatic andr terrestrial lifestyles. Their diet consists of smaller aquatic and/or terrestrial organisms in their territory.
Rough-skinned Newts (Taricha granulosa granulosa) inhabit forest floors across North America.
Among the news and salamanders, they receive notice due to their toxicity. A December 2004 study, the National Institute of Health noted, "Rough-skin newts (Taricha granulosa) released tetrodotoxin (TTX) in their skin secretions in response to mild electric stimulation."
The picture highlights a specimen in a defensive pose. They have little fear of walking on paths because of their toxicity.
Finding a Cure for the Chytrid Fungus, an amphibian skin disease called chytridiomycosis, caused by a chytrid fungus called Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, Bd for short, takes on a sense of urgency as world wide frog populations continue to plummet.
© 2001-2012 Patricia A. Michaels