Southern Torrent Salamander, Rhyacotriton variegatus

The Southern torrent salamander (Rhyacotriton variegatus) is a medium sized species of the Rhyacotritonidae family. Native to the Pacific Northwest, the Southern torrent ranges from northern California into northern Oregon.

A Southern torrent salamander is born aquatic. Most of the species remain aquatic for the duration of life, although some adults are capable of land activity. Shallow, gravel filled streams, waterfalls and a seepage is a preferred habitat. The species that become terrestrial live in forests that are in very close proximity to a water source.

From snout to vent, the Southern torrent measures between 1.5 to 2.4 inches long. Its prominent eyes are speckled with gold flecks. Characteristics include: short tails, slender bodies, and small heads. On its upper side the salamander has an olive or brownish coloration with dark and light flecks. Speckled on its belly side as well, ventrally a yellowish color dominates.

The Southern torrent salamander mostly feeds on aquatic and semi-aquatic invertebrates. Amphipods and springtails are preferred. The salamander faces no immediate threat on its survival; however efforts have been made to conserve the species. Its habitat has been effectively altered or eliminated completely die to urbanization.

The adult female Southern torrent salamander lays eggs aquatically. Between 8 and 11 eggs typically belong to each clutch. The eggs can be found attached to underwater vegetation and rocks. Although there is more to be studied on the breeding habits of this species, it has been speculated the abandoned eggs can take up to 210 days to hatch.

Image Caption: Southern torrent salamander (Rhyacotriton variegatus), in the palm of a hand. Credit: James Bettaso, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service/Wikipedia (public domain)