Northwestern Salamander
Northwestern Salamander
Northwestern Salamander
Northwestern Salamander
Northwestern Salamander
Northwestern Salamander

Northwestern Salamander Ambystoma gracile

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 beach of the mouth of the Elwha River in Washington. I only saw it because it was standing in the muddy trail (lower left, both images). 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.