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Pacific Giant Salamander

Learn more about the pacific giant salamander and find out why it needs our help!

Scientific Name:
Dicamptodon tenebrosus
 Size: Up to 13” total length
 Habitat: Clear mountain streams and surrounding forests
 Status: Not listed                                                           

 

Pacific Giant SalamanderAbout

Of Oregon’s native amphibians, the largest, and perhaps one of the most bizarre, is the pacific giant salamander. Reaching thirteen inches in length, these semi-aquatic creatures are brown and have external gills as juveniles, and are mottled brown and black as adults. Their ideal habitat is made up of the clear, icy mountain streams of the Washington and Oregon Cascades and the coastal ranges of Oregon and California. Pacific giant salamanders start their life entirely aquatic, with gills that allow them to breathe under water. Most of their time as adults is spent undercover beneath logs, bark or stones, either in the streambed or on land, though they will roam about freely after heavy rains. Pacific giant salamanders feed mostly on small aquatic invertebrates and small vertebrates such as smaller salamanders or fish hatchlings.

 

Why does it need our help?

Although the pacific giant salamander is not a particularly threatened species, it has some potential cause for concern. As an amphibian, it depends on a clean aquatic habitat for the survival of its young, and as foraging habitat. Logging and other human activities can lead to siltation and higher temperatures of stream waters, making important salamander habitat much less desirable. Amphibians such as the pacific giant salamander are considered indicators for the declining health of waterways. They are particularly sensitive to changes in water quality and are often the first to be affected by them. Healthy waterways and roadless areas free of logging are important for supporting the secure populations of pacific giant salamanders that currently exist in Oregon.

 

Did you know?

  • Some pacific giant salamanders exhibit a condition called “neoteny”, in which they never mature past the aquatic juvenile stage. While they increase in body size and reach sexual maturity, they never shed their gills and keep a fully aquatic lifestyle for their entire lives.

  • A related species, the California giant salamander, is one of the only salamanders that make noise—it will emit low-pitched barks when threatened.

 

  Check out a video of this critter taken on an Oregon Wild hike to Crabtree Valley!

 

More pacific giant salamander photos

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Sources: http://www.washington.edu, http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu and http://www.nwtrek.org

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How many species of birds rest, feed, and raise their young in the Klamath Basin?
 43
 78
 over 100
 over 350
 

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