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Canadian Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Network - Réseau Canadien de 
Conservation des Amphibiens et des Reptiles

Ambystoma macrodactylum
Long-toed Salamander / Salamandre à longs doigts


Long-toed Salamander

Description
A distinctive yellow stripe runs down the back and tail of the Long-toed Salamander. Sometimes the stripe is not continuous but made up of a series of blotches. The background colour is dark greenish-gray to black. Long-toed Salamanders can grow to 8-12 cm in total length, with the tail making up half of that length.

Confusing Species
No other mole salamander in western Canada has a bright stripe down its back. Two species of lungless salamanders also have stripes: the Coeur d'Alene Salamander, with a yellowish stripe, and the Western Red-backed Salamander, which has a red or orange stripe. Both of these salamanders are much more slender than the Long-toed Salamander.

Distribution
There are three subspecies of the Long-toed Salamander in British Columbia, one of which also occurs in the foothills of Alberta. To the south it is found only as far as northern California.

  • A. m. macrodactylum, the Western Long-toed Salamander is confined to Vancouver Island and the southwest corner of mainland British Columbia.
  • A. m. columbianum, the Eastern Long-toed Salamander, is widespread throughout the mainland.
  • A. m. krausei, the Northern Long-toed Salamander, occurs in eastern British Columbian and western Alberta.

Habitat
Long-toed Salamanders are found from arid sagebrush communities to moist evergreen forests and alpine meadows. They occur from sea level to over 2000 m. Breeding ponds tend to be permanent ponds without fish.

Reproduction
Breeding occurs in early spring, often while there is still ice on the ponds. Females lay their eggs either singly or in clumps on vegetation. Within a month the eggs hatch, but the larvae generally overwinter before transforming. It takes the salamanders two to three years to reach maturity.

Natural History
Long-toed Salamanders tend to live under rocks or rotting logs near ponds, however some salamanders have been found up to a kilometer from their breeding pond. They feed on insects and other invertebrates.

Conservation Concerns
There is no evidence of decline in this species.