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Monday, August 8, 2016

Pacific Giant Salamander

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Marsten
The Pacific giant salamander is the largest terrestrial salamander in North America. Although it lives in a limited area of British Columbia’s southwest, the Chilliwack River watershed, this species ranges along the U.S. Pacific coast from Washington to northern California, where it may be known as the Coastal Giant Salamander. Known for its “bark” and its bite if attacked, this amphibian has two phases of life: the larval state in an aquatic environment; and the metamorphosed adult state, in either an aquatic or terrestrial environment.

The smooth skin of an adult often has a light tan, copper, gold or grey marbling against a dark brown or black ground color. In British Columbia, the marbling effect is absent from the throat and underside of the limbs. It has four legs and a strong, distinct head with large eyes; it has teeth in both jaws. The tail is not round, but flattened laterally, like an eel, which aids in swimming.

Did you know?
The adult Pacific giant salamander leads a sedentary life, but can move a distance of 10.8–54 yards at a time in a short period of activity. Active at night, during the warm rainy season, the salamander can move across the forest floor, occasionally climb a short distance up the bark of trees, and burrow to a depth of 20 feet.

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