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Oregon Ensatina Ensatina eschscholtzii oregonensis


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Oregon Ensatina
credit: Henk Wallays/CCSA

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Family: Plethodontidae, Lungless Salamanders view all from this family

Description 3-5 7/8" (7.6-14.9 cm). Ensatinas are the only salamanders with the tail constricted at base and 5 toes on hind feet. Plain brown or blackish above, whitish or yellowish below, with fine black dots; sometimes lighter mottling on back color. Base of limbs often light-colored. Costal grooves, 12-13. Male's tail often longer than body; female's shorter.

Breeding Late spring to early summer. Cluster of eggs laid underground, brooded by female. No aquatic larval stage.

Habitat Mainly Douglas-fir and vine maple forests; often under rotting logs and rocks.

Range Eastern Vancouver Island; sw. British Columbia south through w. Washington, Oregon, and into nw. California, along Coast Ranges and w. slopes of Cascade Range.

Discussion Ensatinas retire to burrows, caves, and crevices in dry or cold weather. Some authorities do not consider the Oregon Ensatina a subspecies, but merely a different geographical form of the Ensatina. The tails of Ensatinas will break off if grabbed by a predator, allowing the salamander to make its escape; the tail eventually grows back.