The Western Red Back Salamander of the Pacific Northwest
The Western Red Back Salamander can be found all over the coast of BC south to Southern Oregon. This salamander can be found under rocks and fallen wood, along stream banks and in well shaded, damp forests.
The western red back salamander has dark sides and a red, yellow, green or tan stripe down its back. It can be up to 10 cm in length.
These salamanders mate from November to December. Females lay eggs every other year. The female lays a clutch of about 10 eggs from April to May. Red back salamanders are born whole and reach sexual maturity in about 2 to 3 years. These salamanders live and breed entirely on land. They are nocturnal.
Western 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. There bellies are always black and white.
Western Red Back Salamanders do not have lungs, even though they live on land. They breathe through their skin, which must be moist at all times. They come out from their hiding places at night after a rain. This is when they do most of their hunting.
These little salamanders are insectivores, although they will eat many invertebrates other than insects. They are opportunistic in their feeding and will eat springtails, mites, earthworms, isopods, spiders, beetles, ants, and the list goes on. They hunt in a surprisingly small area, with home ranges of just a few square meters. The home range becomes more important during very dry times. Sometimes during extreme droughts, older salamanders will allow young from previous litters use their territories to survive.