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Amphibians


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Salamanders and Newts
Tiger Salamander
Tiger Salamander
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

Blotched Tiger Salamander Ambystoma mavortuim melanostictum

Adult tiger salamanders are relatively large with olive-colored blotches outlined in black. They have gray undersides and can grow to 13 inches in total length.

As adults, tiger salamanders live almost entirely on land, returning to the water to breed.

Tiger salamanders are found in grasslands and shrub-steppe habitat. Terrestrial adults spend a significant portion of time in burrows on land that they or other animals have dug.

Northwestern Salamander
Northwestern Salamander
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

Northwestern Salamander Ambystoma gracile

These large-bodied salamanders have solid brown skin that is smooth and moist. Adults can grow to almost 10 inches in total length.

Northwestern salamanders live in moist forests or partly wooded areas. Though common in Oregon, adult salamanders are rarely seen because they live underground. Terrestrial adults require moist crevices in logs or rodent burrows in the ground for shelter from weather and predators.

Long-toed Salamander
Long-toed Salamander
-Wikipedia-

Long-toed Salamander Ambystoma macrodactylum

Appropriately named, adult long-toed salamanders have extremely long toes on their hind feet. The long-toed salamander has black or brown skin that is smooth and moist with a yellow- to green-colored ragged edged stripe running from its head to the tip of its tail. It is speckled with white or silver dots along its sides and underside. Adults may grow up to more than six inches in total length.

Adult long-toed salamanders are seen infrequently, as they spend most of the year in the ground. They find cover in a variety of habitats including grasslands, dry shrub-steppe, pastures, lowland forests, high elevation lakes and ponds.

cope's giant salamander
Cope’s Giant Salamander neotene
-US Forest Service-

Cope's Giant Salamander Dicamptodon copei

These large salamanders are marbled brown and tan in color when in their rare terrestrial (land-living) adult form and brown with yellowish-tan patches on top and short gills in their common aquatic adult form (neotene). Both terrestrial and aquatic adults can grow up to eight inches in total length.

Most adult salamanders live in cold, fast-flowing, clear and permanent streams in coniferous forests. Adult salamanders need deep cobble and small boulder substrates for foraging for prey and hiding from predators.

pacific giant salamander
Pacific Giant Salamander
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

Pacific Giant Salamander Dicamptodon tenebrosus

Pacific giant salamanders are the largest salamanders in Oregon. Terrestrial adults are marbled with tan and brown on their tops and are mostly tan on their undersides. They can grow to a total length of 13 inches.

Terrestrial adult Pacific giant salamanders live in cool, moist coniferous forests near cold and clear streams. Because terrestrial adults spend most of their adulthood in burrows, they are rarely seen. Occasionally, during times of heavy rain, adults leave their burrows to forage on the forest floor at night.

Southern Torrent Salamander
Southern Torrent Salamander
-Washington Fish and Wildlife-

Columbia Torrent Salamander Rhyacotriton kezeri

These small salamanders have solid green-, brown- or gray-colored sides and backs with bright yellow or orange undersides. Adults can grow to four inches in total length.

Columbia torrent salamanders spend their lives in and near cold and clear water bodies including mountain streams, springheads, waterfalls and seeps in older forests. They need loose gravel stream beds for hiding and foraging. They are highly connected to their water sources, but in times of heavy rainfall, they may venture into a nearby forest.

Southern Torrent Salamander
Southern Torrent Salamander
-US Fish and Wildlife Service-

Southern Torrent Salamander Rhyacotriton variegatus

This small salamander is evenly speckled with dark flecks and has a brown head, back and tail with a bright yellow belly.

Southern torrent salamanders spend their lives in and near permanent, cold and clear water bodies including mountain streams, springs and seeps in older coastal coniferous forests. For a salamander, they are able to tolerate relatively dry forest conditions.

Cascade Torrent Salamanders
Cascade Torrent Salamanders post-metamorphs
-Washington Fish and Wildlife-

Cascade Torrent Salamander Rhyacotriton cascadae

The Cascade torrent salamander generally has numerous medium-sized black spots and white-gray flecking along its tan back and sides and a bright yellow belly that has fewer spots. Adults can grow to just over four inches in total length.

Cascade torrent salamanders spend their lives in and near permanent, cold, fast-flowing and clear water bodies including headwater streams, waterfall splash zones and seeps in older coniferous forests. Adults need gravel streambeds or other gravel areas with constant and shallow water flow for foraging and cover.

Rough-skin Newt
Rough-skinned Newt
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

Rough-skinned Newt Taricha granulosa

Rough-skinned newts were named for their dry granular skin―most other salamander species have moist smooth skin. A terrestrial adult newt has a brown head and back with a bright orange belly and can grow to almost eight inches in total length.

Through the non-breeding season, terrestrial adults live in forested areas along the coast and through to the eastern foothills of the Cascades. They find protection in or under soft logs. For their size, these newts travel relatively long distances between their breeding and non-breeding habitat and may be seen crossing roads during spring and fall as they migrate.

Dunn's Salamander
Dunn’s Salamander
-Photo by Dave Bickford,
US Forest Service-

Dunn's Salamander Plethodon dunni

This large woodland salamander is dark colored with a green- or tan- colored stripe along its back. The Dunn’s salamander is one of the lungless salamander species; they breathe through their skin. Adults can grow to six inches in total length.

Dunn’s salamanders live in the shaded rocky edges of highly humid forested streams and moist talus (rock fragment piles). They prefer areas that are permanently moist but not in flowing water. Adults often hide under rocks, in splash zones near streams and occasionally under woody debris. The rainy season of the Cascade Mountains temporarily allows salamanders to move away from streams in forested areas that are otherwise too dry.

Larch Mountain Salamander
Larch Mountain Salamander
-Photo by Tom Kogut,
US Forest Service-

Larch Mountain Salamander Plethodon larselli

The Larch Mountain salamander is one of the rarest amphibian species in the Pacific Northwest. This small woodland salamander has a reddish-brown or yellow black-spotted stripe along its back and has a pink belly. The Larch Mountain salamander is one of the lungless salamander species; they breathe through their skin. Mature adults can grow to four inches in total length.

They find refuge in moist steep basalt talus (piles of volcanic rock fragments) slopes in forested habitats. The rocks, with a mossy covering sheltered by a dense canopy (tree branches and foliage) of coniferous trees, remain moist throughout the year. Larch Mountain salamanders prefer slopes that have large amounts of fine litter such as decaying leaves, bark and twigs. They also favor late-successional (old) forests with gravel or fractured rock in the soil. During extreme cold, hot or dry weather, they move deep under talus (rock fragment piles) to avoid desiccation (extreme dehydration).

Most of this species’ habitat is within the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, which encompasses the entire length of the Columbia River Gorge in northern Oregon and southern Washington.

Western Red-backed Salamander
Western Red-backed Salamander, yellow color morph adult
-Photo by Tom Kogut,
US Forest Service-

Western Red-backed Salamander Plethodon vehiculum

A woodland species, the western red-backed salamander is small and slender. It has a wide stripe running from the head to the tip of the tail that can be yellow, orange, green or brown. Mature adults can grow up to just over four inches in total length.

Western red-backed salamanders live in humid coniferous forests with mild winters. They find cover in rocky substrates, including talus (rock fragment piles), boulders and rock outcroppings. They may also hide under or in rotting logs, leaf litter and other forest debris. During extreme cold, hot or dry weather, they move deep under talus (rock fragment piles), deep in logs or move underground to avoid desiccation (extreme dehydration).

Del Norte Salamander
Del Norte Salamander
-Photo by James Bettaso,
US Fish and Wildlife Service-

Del Norte Salamander Plethodon elongatus

Del Norte salamanders are solid brown or black in color. Some individuals, especially younger salamanders, have a reddish-orange to red stripe along their backs, but it generally fades as they mature. As the species’ scientific name (elongatus) suggests, individuals have long bodies in relation to their short limbs. The Del Norte salamander is one of the lungless salamander species; they breathe through their skin. They can grow to six inches in total length.

Del Norte salamanders live in older redwood or Douglas-fir forests and commonly use rocky substrates rubble, talus (rock fragment piles) and rock outcroppings for cover. During hot and dry or cold weather, they retreat deeper into rocky crevices or underground. They may emerge to just beneath surface debris during times of warm and wet weather.

Siskiyou_Mountains Salamander
Siskiyou Mountains Salamander adult (left) and juvenile (right)
-Photo by Karen West,
US Forest Service-

Siskiyou Mountains Salamander Plethodon stormi

Siskiyou Mountains salamanders are similar to Del Norte salamanders, except they are a little shorter, growing to about 5½ inches in total length. An adult salamander is brown colored with a light brown stripe along the back and a grayish-purple belly. It has light scattered flecks along the body. The Siskiyou Mountains salamander is one of the lungless salamander species; they breathe through their skin.

Siskiyou Mountains salamanders require talus (rock fragment piles) or rock outcrops in older forest stands. Siskiyou Mountains salamanders retreat deep within rocky crevices that remain cool and moist during extremely dry summers. Even during times of wet weather, when they emerge to just under surface debris, they remain near sheltering rocks.

Ensatina
Ensatina
-Photo by Ray Davis,
US Forest Service-

Ensatina Ensatina eschscholzii

Ensatinas have short bodies and yellow or orange legs. Two sub-species of ensatinas live in Oregon. The Oregon ensatina (E. e. oregonensis) is solid red, orange, brown or tan colored, while the painted ensatina (E. e. picta) has small yellow, black or white spots on the back and tail. Ensatinas are one of the lungless salamander species; they breathe through their moist skin. They can grow to just over four inches in total length.

Ensatinas live in humid forests, woodlands and shrub lands. They commonly use woody debris, such as logs, bark piles at the base of snags (standing dead trees), stumps and even woodpiles in residential areas for cover from weather and protection from predators.

Clouded Salamander
Clouded Salamander
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

Clouded Salamander Aneides ferreus

Adult clouded salamanders are generally brown with brassy patches on their backs and gray bellies. As salamanders age, the brassy back colors fade. The clouded salamander is one of the lungless salamander species; they breathe through their moist skin. Mature adults can grow to just over five inches in total length.

Clouded salamanders prefer forest habitats or burned areas that provide large decaying logs or stumps, especially Douglas firs, where they can find burrows in the wood or spaces just under the bark to hide. They may also hide deep in rock crevices during dry and cold weather. During warm wet weather, clouded salamanders lie closer to the surface just beneath the top layer of debris.

Black Salamander
Black Salamander
-Photo by James Bettaso,
US Fish and Wildlife Service-

Black Salamander Aneides flavipunctatus

Adult black salamanders that live in Oregon are fully black with a smattering of bronze or green specks across the top of their heads, backs, tails and legs. The black salamander is one of the lungless salamander species; they breathe through their skin. Female black salamanders are generally larger than males and grow up to 5½ inches in total length.

Black salamanders live in forest, open woodland, moist talus (rock fragment piles) and streamside habitats. They use crevices in moist decaying logs or stumps, wet talus slopes or just under surface debris for cover during warm wet weather. During drier periods, they find refuge in the interior portions of large decaying logs and talus slopes or even along streams.

Oregon Slender Salamander
Oregon Slender Salamander
-Photo by Dr. Tom A. Titus, Institute of Neuroscience, University of Oregon

Oregon Slender Salamander Batrachoseps wrighti

This dark colored salamander has a reddish-brown ragged edged stripe that runs along the top of the head to the tip of the tail with black or dark brown sides. The belly is black with large white flecks. The Oregon slender salamander is one of the lungless salamander species; they breathe through their skin. Mature adults can grow to just under four inches in total length, with females about 12% larger than males.

Oregon slender salamanders are most common in stable, moist old-growth (late successional and second-growth) forests where there are abundant large decaying Douglas fir logs and bark debris mounds at the base of snags (standing dead trees). They may also use moist talus (rock fragment piles) and lava fields. Occasionally, Oregon slender salamanders clump together in groups to remain damp.

California Slender Salamander
California Slender Salamander
-Photo by Jason Chenoweth, US Fish and Wildlife Service-

California Slender Salamander Batrachoseps attenuatus

California slender salamanders have especially long and slender worm-like bodies. They have reddish-brown stripes along their backs from head to tail. This stripe fades as the animal ages. The California slender salamander is one of the lungless salamander species; they breathe through their skin. Mature adults can grow to 5½ inches in total length.

In Oregon, this salamander usually lives in humid coastal conifer forests. It especially prefers redwood forests, which its coloration provides camouflage for perfectly hiding in the rotting red-colored wood. In times of warm wet weather, it takes cover just beneath surface debris. In times of drier weather, it may retreat deep into crevices or insect and worm burrows underground and in large logs and stumps. As it lives along the coast, it is capable of tolerating ocean salt sprays.

Frogs and Toads

Living with Frogs | Frogs Are Cool! Facts for Kids (pdf)

Coastal Tailed Frog
Coastal Tailed Frog
-Photo by Brome McCreary-
Coastal Tailed Frog Ascaphus truei

The coloring of adult coastal tailed frogs often matches the color of local rocks ranging from brown or reddish-brown to gray with little flecks of yellow or gray. They have grainy textured skin that further enhances their camouflage. Male coastal tailed frogs have a short tail, the signature for tailed frogs. Adult males grow to 1¾ inches long and adult females to two inches long.

They live in very shallow and heavily shaded water of fast running, small, permanent mountain streams with cold and clear water, rocky substrates and little silt in older forests. These streams are often fish-less headwater streams. During rainy weather, adults may venture onto stream banks or away from streams into areas that would otherwise be too dry. Adults spend their days hiding under streambed rocks.

Coastal Tailed Frog
Coastal Tailed Frog
-Washington Fish and Wildlife-

Rocky Mountain (Inland) Tailed Frog Ascaphus montanus

The Rocky Mountain tailed frog’s coloring often matches the color of local rocks ranging from brown or reddish-brown to gray. They have grainy textured skin that further enhances their camouflage. Male Rocky Mountain tailed frogs have a short tail, the signature for tailed frogs. Adult males are slightly smaller than adult females that grow to two inches in length.

Rocky Mountain tailed frogs are found in the water or close by it. They live in very shallow and heavily shaded water of fast-flowing, small, permanent streams in older mountain forests with cold and clear water, rocky substrates and little silt. These streams are often fish-less headwater streams. During rainy weather, adults may venture onto stream banks or away from the streams into areas that would otherwise be too dry. In the summer, adults hide under rocks in streams.

Great Basin Spadefoot
Great Basin Spadefoot
Great Basin Spadefoot Spea intermontana

The Great Basin spadefoot is a species of toad. Adult spadefoots are gray with light lines along the back and light colored bellies. Their skin has abundant dark colored small bumpy spots. They have a single, black, hard spade on the heel of each hind foot. Adult females are larger than males, growing to 2½ inches in length.

Great Basin spadefoots live in dry sagebrush, grasslands and woodlands with sandy soils near ponds. Though they live in semi-arid habitats, like all frogs, they love the rain and damp weather. They spend most of the year in underground burrows that they dig quite efficiently using the spade on their hind foot. They use these burrows for hibernation during cold dry winters and estivation during hot dry summers.

Western Toad
Western Toad
-Kelly McAllister-
Western Toad Bufo boreas

These large toads are well camouflaged in earth tones with dry bumpy skin that aids in protection from predators. Their color can be highly variable among individuals ranging from gray or reddish-brown to yellow or green. They have a light colored stripe that runs along the center of the back. Adult female toads are larger than males, growing to five inches in length.

They live mainly on land in a range of habitats from forests to mountain meadows to desert flats. During the non-breeding season, they are nocturnal. They dig their own burrows in loose soil, use existing burrows or hide under logs, other woody debris and rocks for daytime cover.

Woodhouse’s Toad
Woodhouse’s Toad
-ODFW-
Woodhouse’s Toad Bufo woodhousii

These large toads have bumps on their dry skin which contain poison glands to discourage predators. Color varies between individuals ranging from gray or yellow to dark brown. They have thin white stripes along their backs and yellow bellies with dark specks. Females are larger than males and grow to five inches in length.

Woodhouse’s toads live in river valleys in sagebrush and grassland habitats. They rest in burrows throughout the daytime hours and use wetlands during the breeding season. During dry weather, they burrow underground.

Pacific Treefrog
Pacific Treefrog
-Photo by Bob Swingle, ODFW-
Northern Pacific Treefrog (also referred to as the Pacific chorus frog) Pseudacris regilla

Adult treefrogs have a dark mask that extends from the tip of the nose across the eyes to the shoulders. Coloration varies between individuals, ranging from green or reddish to brown or gray. Most individuals have dark blotches along their sides with light colored bumpy undersides. They have special skin glands that produce a waxy coating to keep their skin moist. Male treefrogs have a dark gray, inflatable throat pouch during the breeding season. As the smallest frog species in Oregon, adult northern Pacific treefrogs only grow to two inches in length.

During the non-breeding season, this treefrog is found in various habitats that can be quite distant from water, including wet meadows, riparian areas, woodlands and brush habitats and pastures and disturbed areas. They may even find shelter in tree cavities. Individuals living east of the Cascades move into underground burrows dug by other animals or stay in streams or springs during times of dry weather. They are inactive during freezing weather.

Northern Red-legged Frog
Northern Red-legged Frog
-Photo by Don Vandeberg, ODFW-
Northern Red-legged Frog Rana aurora

Adults have smooth, moist skin that is brown or reddish-brown in color with black flecks on their backs, sides and legs. They may also have a dark colored mask. Adults have red underlegs, hence their name. Females, growing to four inches in length, are almost twice the size of males.

Adult red-legged frogs like cool damp coniferous or deciduous forests and forested wetlands. During the non-breeding season, adult frogs spend most of their time on land in woodlands along streams, in moist sedge or brush, along shaded pond edges or under logs and other forest debris. Damp weather permits them to venture away from their primary water source into areas that would normally be too dry. They are inactive if temperatures are too cold or weather is too hot and dry. Coastal populations may remain active throughout the year.

Cascades Frog
Cascades Frog
Cascades Frog Rana cascadae

Adult Cascades frogs have tan, copper or green backs with black spots and yellow bellies. Their skin has small bumps on the back and sides. Females, which grow to three inches in length, are slightly larger than males.

Cascades frogs live in a variety of moist habitats including mountain meadows, bogs, seasonally flooded forested swamps and shallow ponds, marshes and lakes. They use woody debris, mud or dense vegetation for cover from predators and spend their winters hibernating in mud. They emerge during the summer and live in wet meadows and bogs or along forested streams and pond edges.

Oregon Spotted Frog
Oregon Spotted Frog
Oregon Spotted Frog Rana pretiosa

Adult Oregon spotted frogs have moist bumpy skin that is reddish-brown on their topsides. On their heads, backs, sides and legs, they have black spots with light centers that darken with age. They also have red bellies and orange-red underlegs. Adult females grow to four inches in length and males to three inches.

Oregon spotted frogs live in wet areas that provide abundant aquatic vegetation such as marshes, permanent ponds, lake edges and slow streams. When frightened, they hide in dense vegetation or under debris at the bottom of shallow wetlands. Adult frogs hibernate during the winter in freeze-free seeps, springs and channels (sometimes in mud bottoms at least one foot under water) connected to their breeding waters.

Columbia Spotted Frog
Columbia Spotted Frog
Columbia Spotted Frog Rana luteiventris

Adult frogs have moist bumpy skin that is tan or olive-green colored on their topsides. On their heads, backs, sides and legs, they have dark spots with light centers that darken with age. They also have red bellies and orange-red underlegs. Adult females grow to 4 inches in length and males to 3 inches in length.

Columbia spotted frogs live in wet areas that provide abundant aquatic vegetation such as marshes, permanent ponds, lake edges and slow streams. When frightened, they hide in dense vegetation or under debris at the bottom of shallow wetlands. Adult frogs overwinter in springs, spring-fed water holes, beaver dams, pond bottoms and some areas of permanent streams. They may actively move in cold water through the winter in ponds that ice over during the winter.

Foothill Yellow-legged Frog
Foothill Yellow-legged Frog
Foothill Yellow-legged Frog Rana boylii

Adult frogs are gray or brown with yellow underbellies and thighs. Their color and grainy textured rough-looking skin helps camouflage them, making them hard to see among rocks. Adults can grow to three inches in length; males are slightly smaller than females.

They live in or along edges of permanent streams and rivers with exposed rocky streambeds and off-channel waters that are slow flowing and quiet. In summer, they are likely to hide under rocks in streams or among clumps of vegetation along pools. They use rocks or debris at the bottom of the streams as refuge from predators. They may wander out of their aquatic habitats on wet days. During times of cold weather, they become inactive and usually reduce their level of activity during hot, dry weather.

Northern Leopard Frog
Northern Leopard Frog
Northern Leopard Frog Rana pipiens

Adult northern leopard frogs have smooth skin that is green or brown and covered with dark brown spots outlined with white rings. Females grow to just over four inches in length; males are slightly smaller at just over three inches.

They live in and near various water sources with abundant vegetation such as wet meadows, marshes, riparian areas and moist, open woodlands. These frogs use the vegetation, such as grasses, sedge, weeds or brush, as cover from predators. During the winter, they need ponds or slow-running streams for hibernation.

Glossary of terms | Sources: Atlas of Oregon Wildlife

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