Black-bellied Slender Salamander, Batrachoseps nigriventris

The Black-bellied slender salamander (Batrachoseps nigriventris) is a member of the Plethodontidae family. The species is native to California. The slender salamander often inhabits oak woodlands. The species may also be found in mountains, stream surroundings and grasslands.

The Black-bellied slender salamander ranges specifically throughout the mountains and valleys of the coast range from southern Monterey County south to the Santa Ana Mountains, including the Tehachapi, Santa Monica and San Gabriel Mountains east to Cajon Pass. The species has also been found on Santa Cruz Island.

The Black-bellied slender salamander typically reaches lengths between 1.2 to 1.8 inches long from snout to vent. Its tail may measure twice the length of its entire body. As its common name implies, its small, slim body gives this salamander an almost worm-like appearance. Characteristics of the species include a narrow head, slender body and an extremely long tail.

The Black-bellied slender salamander’s coloration is dark brown or black, you guessed it, even on its belly side. Fine white flecks may be found on its belly side, as well. A red, brown, or tan dorsal stripe runs down its back. Although other California salamanders usually have 5 toes, the Sequoia slender only has 4 toes on both its front and rear feet.

The Black-bellied slender salamander is a lung-less species; it breathes through its skin. This feature forces the salamander to find and dwell in moist, land environments. The species is nocturnal and can be found most often hiding beneath logs, bark, leaf litter and rocks.

Typical behavior of the Black-bellied slender salamander includes, coiling and camouflaging when threatened. A swift, springing action may assist the salamander in its getaway. The species can easily regenerate and will shed parts of its tail as a distraction for its predators.

Typical diets of the Black-bellied slender salamander consist of small arthropods and invertebrates and it uses a sit-and-wait approach when feeding. Its projectile tongue is used when catching its prey.

Image Caption: Black-bellied slender salamander (Batrachoseps nigriventris). Credit: Chris Brown, United States Geological Survey/Wikipedia (public domain)