ONH

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    1 - Northwestern Salamander,Ambystoma gracile, on a muddy trail.

    03/06/2007 Mouth of the Elwha River, Port Angeles, Washington

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    2 - Northwestern Salamander.

    03/06/2007 Mouth of the Elwha River, Port Angeles, Washington

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    3 - Northwestern Salamander.

    03/06/2007 Mouth of the Elwha River, Port Angeles, Washington

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    4 - The large paratoid gland behind the eye is clearly visible in this closeup.

    03/06/2007 Mouth of the Elwha River, Port Angeles, Washington

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    5 - Plain grayish underside.

    03/06/2007 Mouth of the Elwha River, Port Angeles, Washington

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    6 - Northwestern Salamander.

    03/06/2007 Mouth of the Elwha River, Port Angeles, Washington

The Northwestern Salamander occurs along the west coast from northern British Columbia to northern California. I found this specimen on a damp, tree-shaded trail to the east beach of the mouth of the Elwha River in Washington. I only saw it because it was standing in the muddy trail. In the leaf litter, this brown salmander blends in quite well.

Like other Ambystoma species, Northwestern Salmanders secrete a sticky white toxin from the prominent paratoid glands behind the eyes and from glandular tissue on the top edge of the laterally flattened tail. The toxin secreted by Ambystoma gracile has not been chemically characterized, in contrast to the well-known toxin of the Rough-skinned Newt.

These salamanders, some of our largest, have four long toes on the front feet and five long toes on the back feet. The underside is pale gray, showing none of the bright ventral coloration of the Rough-skinned Newt.