Common Ensatina Salamander

Common Ensatina Salamander, Vancouver Island BC
Common Ensatina Salamander, Vancouver Island, BC, Photo Copyright By Sean McCann

The Common Ensatina Salamander lives its whole life on Vancouver Island’s rain forest floor. 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.

They can be found in an area stretching from British Columbia, through Washington, Oregon, and have even been seen in the Baja area in California

The Ensatina is a small, slender salamander with a total length of up to 12 cm. Their head and eyes appear to be too large for such a small salamander. The limbs are relatively long. They are a light brown color, sometimes they have a slight pinkish hue when seen under certain lighting. The base of legs and the feet often have light flecking along to them.

Their eggs are well hidden in wet areas on the forest floor and seldom found, l have never seen them myself. They are 5 to 8 mm in diameter, whitish or cream-colored when newly laid, and occur in clusters of up to about 25 eggs. The best way to find the nest is to follow the female, she will go to her nest when threatened and curl up around her eggs to protect them.

The young occupy the same habitats as adults, there is no aquatic larval stage. The young are small and very slender. They are mottled with black or dark gray, with lighter flecking, but lose the mottling as they grow. The bottom of each leg is bright yellow. They are beautiful little salamanders when they are young.

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