Ensatina eschscholtzii oregonensis
Oregon Ensatina / Salamandre variable
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.
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.
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
This species inhabits Douglas Fir-Vine Maple forests in Canada. They are often found
under bark piles but also live underground.
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.
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.
Although experiencing habitat loss and fragmentation this species is not considered
to be at risk.