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March 12, 2005

Aneides lugubris

Eventually, one of these guys is going to let me have it. Arboreal salamanders are supposed to pack a wallop in the chomp department, and though I've been bitten by one, it was about as uncomfortable as touching a doorknob in a carpeted room in Minnesota in January.

Arboreal salamanders, Aneides lugubris (and a more apt specific epithet I am hard pressed to remember) are plethodontiids, or lungless salamanders. Lacking lungs, plethodontids breathe through their skins and generally need to stay moist in order not to suffocate.

Arboreal salamanders stay moist in the wild by living under the giant piles of leaf litter generated by oaks and similar trees of the California coast. You might guess from their common name that they can climb trees, and that guess would be correct according to the literature, but I've never seen one off the ground by its own choice - though I did find one in my living room about twenty years ago that could only have come by way of the chimney.

Another consequence of having no lungs is having no nostrils. This creates a bit of a dilemma as arboreal salamanders hunt partly by smell. Fortunately, the critters wear their olfactory organs on the outside, in little grooves where their nostrils might have been.

This guy was living under Wheelbarrow #2, which I moved just now to pull the foot-tall weeds around it. He — I think she was a "he" — was reasonably tolerant of handling, only trying to escape once during the photography session. And then he made her getaway.

fent Added later: Guess it's herp day. This guy narrowly escaped being run over by the lawnmower this afternoon.

Posted by Chris Clarke at March 12, 2005 11:40 AM TrackBack URL for this entry:

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decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs


What big eyes you've got Gram...Salamader. They climb at night Chris, especially on those chill Bay Area foggy nights. All through the 1980s I lived off Skyline Bl'vd in the Oakland Hills and sometimes at night I'd see them out in our backyard that overlooked Chabot Regional Park.

Posted by: OGeorge at March 12, 2005 04:40 PM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs


Posted by: Craig at March 12, 2005 06:42 PM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs


Wow. That just might be the critter I unearthed from the manure pile. The most common lizard-like animal around this part of GA may be the Carolina anole. But, this was no anole.

You've inspired me to learn whether arboreal salamanders are native to GA.



Posted by: Bill at March 15, 2005 10:17 AM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs