North American salamanders are plentiful, and come in a wide variety of colours and sizes. About 50 different species are known to occur in California alone, and today I found several whilst searching an ancient redwood forest and also a stream bed within a beautiful canyon. The first species I came across was an Ensatina (above right), found within an incredible forest that contained what must be the tallest trees I have ever seen, giant redwoods, some measuring up to 300 ft tall!
Continuing north, driving to a place I had been told was great for herps, I arrived to a scene that took my breath away even more than the giant trees had. It was a tall but narrow canyon off the beaten track, completely covered in ferns. Water dripped down all sides and a clear steam flowed through. I started searching immediately, turning flat stones within the shallow stream bed. Unusual salamander larvae were hiding beneath – I was in heaven!
Unfortunately salamander larvae are notoriously difficult to identify and I didn’t have my books with me today for keying out specimens. I am not so familiar with some of the larvae of species in this area, but I think I now know what these salamanders were.
The sound is not great because of the running stream, but my question still stands in the following video – can you identify what salamanders these are? Clue’s in the title!
More pictures of the specimen HERE
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