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

Ensatina eschscholtzii oregonensis
Oregon Ensatina / Salamandre variable


Oregon Ensatina

Description
The Oregon Ensatina is a slender-bodied salamander which varies greatly in colour and pattern. Most Canadian individuals are plain brown or blackish above and whitish or yellowish below with fine black dots. It is the only salamander which has both a contriction at the base of the tail and five toes on the hind feet. Adults may reach a total length of 15 cm including the tail.

Confusing Species
The Wandering Salamander has similar colouration above but has white dots on the belly and no constriction at the base of the tail. The Four-toed Salamander has a constriction at the base of the tail but is not found in western Canada and has four toes rather than five on the hind feet.

Distribution
The Oregon Ensatina is found both on southern Vancouver Island and the adjacent mainland. Outside of Canada, it is restricted to the west coast of the United States down to Mexico.

Habitat
This species inhabits Douglas Fir-Vine Maple forests in Canada. They are often found under bark piles but also live underground.

Reproduction
Breeding occurs in late spring or early summer. From 7-25 eggs are laid underground and are tended by the female. The young hatch as miniature adults in fall or early winter and reach sexual maturity in two to three years.

Natural History
Oregon Ensatina retreats underground during dry weather but is active after rains. When threatened it elevates and arches the tail and stands stiff-legged and sway backed. If a predator grasps the tail it breaks off, allowing the salamander to escape. Individuals may live up to 15 years in the wild.

Conservation Concerns
Although experiencing habitat loss and fragmentation this species is not considered to be at risk.