Western Red Back Salamander

Western Red Back Salamander, Vancouver Island, BC
Western Red Back Salamander, Vancouver Island, BC, Photo By Bud Logan

The Western Red Back Salamander can be found all over the pacific northwest from 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 redback 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. Redback 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 Redback 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.

Western Red Back Salamander, Vancouver Island, BC
Western Red Back Salamander, Vancouver Island, BC, Photo By Bud Logan

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 it rained. 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 to use their territories to survive.

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2 thoughts on “Western Red Back Salamander”

  1. I found a western red salamander on our driveway yesterday. It did not appear to be injured but was very inactive notwithstanding some tail twitching. Since the outside temperature has dropped to zero plus or minus one degree I thought it might be in some state of hibernation. I put it in a shoebox and covered it with wet paper towel and brought it into my workshop where the temperature is approx. 14 C. Today its tail is still twitching. My plan was to wait a couple of days till the outside temp. gets to 5 or so then place it back out near where I found
    Any thoughts or recommendations? Feedback would be appreciated.

    1. Not sure what to say, I hope you are successful in bringing the little one around though. Please keep me posted on your endeavor.

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