Common Ensatina Salamander

Common Ensatina Salamander, Vancouver Island, BCThe Common Ensatina Salamander lives its whole life on the Pacific Northwest’s rain forest floor, where it spends its time in decaying logs, rotten stumps, woody debris, downed logs, and bark piles at the base of snags and is sometimes in woodpiles in peoples’ yards west of the Cascades. Inhabits moist shaded evergreen and deciduous forests. They are also found in Oak forests. Read More….


Long Toed Salamander

long toed Salamander, Vancouver Island, BCThis semi-aquatic salamander is a medium-sized amphibian with a total length that can reach up to about 16.5 cm. A broad yellow stripe runs down from the neck to the tail tip, where it often turns into blotches. The sides are black or dark gray with light flecking. The tail is keeled rather than round in cross-section. The common name of the species is derived from having a long fourth toe on each hind foot. Read More….


Rough Skinned Newt

Rough Skinned Newt, Vancouver Island, BCNewts are quite poisonous and are thus avoided by most predators. This is why these salamanders are able to venture out during the day. Many dead birds and fish have been found with Rough Skin Newts in their stomachs, suggesting that eating a newt is a mistake these predators only make once. The Common Garter Snake, however, is apparently unaffected by the newt’s poison and is one of its major predators. Read More….


Wandering Salamander

Wandering Salamander, Vancouver Island, BCThe Wandering Salamander was originally only found in California, but now can be found on Vancouver Island.  They are not found in between these two locations. It seems that Vancouver Island gardeners who had purchased red bark that was packaged in California would unknowingly release these salamanders on Vancouver Island.  The name sure fits these little ones. Read More….


Western Redback Salamander

Western Redback Salamander, Vancouver Island, BCWestern Red Back Salamanders are the most common salamander you will see in our forests. They are easy to recognize, with their black bodies and bright stripe down the middle of their backs. They can also have a yellow stripe, or even black with no stripe but usually, they have the stripe. Their bellies are always black and white. Read More….


Common Ensatina Salamander
Common Ensatina Salamander

Vancouver Island has 5 of the 8 species of salamanders and one newt of B.C. living on it. 5 are harmless, but the rough-skinned newt can be deadly, it is said that people have died just by accidentally boiling one in the coffee pot in the morning when out camping.

A salamander is an amphibian in the order Caudata. This order encompasses hundreds of individual salamander species and several large groupings, including sirens, salamanders, and newts. Like other amphibians, salamanders prefer damp, moist places such as swamps, ponds, and waterways. Salamanders range widely in size and coloration, but all of them have smooth, porous skins that may feel damp to the touch, along with long tails.

Wandering Salamander, Vancouver Island, BC
Wandering Salamander, Vancouver Island, BC, photo by Russ Porter.

A salamander starts out as an aquatic larva hatched from an egg. Salamander larvae have gills so that they can breathe underwater until they develop into adults with lungs. Depending on the species, the salamander may live a primarily aquatic life, or it may range far from water. As a general rule, salamanders avoid direct light, and many of them are nocturnal as a result.

The animals do not thrive well in dry conditions, so most species need to keep their skins moist to promote general health and gas exchange. Because their skins are highly porous, salamanders are susceptible to environmental toxins and rough handling. Salamanders can also carry bacteria, and some are quite toxic. So it is a good idea to wash your hands after dealing with salamanders and newts.



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4 thoughts on “Salamanders”

  1. I found a bright green Salamander, at least I think it was with a bright orange undercarriage. Can’t find a picture of it anywhere…any ideas? I live near a pond in the central island area…It was sleeping in the mud in my garden, well resting.

  2. Hi there:

    I am in Nanoose Bay and found a Rough Skin Newt today along with another salamander(?), that I have yet to identify. Could I provide a picture of it by email for help?
    Thank you for your time,

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