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Last updated on April 17, 2014 at 21:23 EDT

California Giant Salamander, Dicamptodon ensatus

The California giant salamander (Dicamptodon ensatus) is a member of the Dicamptodontidae family. The species is native only to northern California.

The California giant salamander inhabits moist, coastal forests or streams, lakes and ponds. Some of the species may remain gilled aquatic creatures, while others transform and become terrestrial land creatures. The California giant is nocturnal and most of its life is spent hiding and burrowing.

Typically, the California giant salamander grows to lengths between 6.7 to 11.8 inches. The salamander’s length is reached mostly from its long tail. Coloration is brassy, brown or tan and a marbled pattern covers the head, back and sides. A flattened body, massive head and shovel-like snout are all common characteristics of the species appearance.

On land, typical feeding includes snails, slugs, worms, small mice and any reptiles or amphibians the California giant salamander may overtake. Aquatic California giant salamanders have a diet that consists of small fish, aquatic invertebrates and other smaller amphibians.

Breeding is typical in the springtime. Reproduction is aquatic. Females produce anywhere between 70 and 100 eggs. Eggs are laid in ponds or slow-moving streams where they attach to underwater rocks or vegetation. Adult female salamanders may or may not stay near their clutch and eggs typically hatch in 5 months.

Image Caption: California Giant Salamander (Dicamptodon ensatus). Credit: Pierre Fidenci/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 2.5)

California Giant Salamander Dicamptodon ensatus