Toe tips are squared-off. Compare with the more rounded toe tips of Aneides flavipunctatus, the Black Salamander.
Clouded Salamanders From Oregon
Adult, Linn County, Oregon
Adult, Curry County, Oregon
Sub-adult, Lane County, Oregon
Juvenile, Lane County, Oregon
Juvenile, Lane County, Oregon
Juveniles, Lane County, Oregon
Habitat, clearcut north of Rowdy Creek, Del Norte County
Smith River, Del Norte County
Habitat, Del Norte County
More pictures of this salamander and its natural habitat in Oregon are available on our Northwest Herps page.
A small Clouded Salamander is discovered under some loose bark in the woods.
Adults measure 1 4/5 - 3 inches long (4.6 - 7.6 cm) from snout to vent, 3 - 5 inches (7.5 -13 cm) total length.
A medium-sized plethodontid salamander which breathes through thin moist skin instead of lungs.
Slim, long-legged, adapted for climbing with long squared-off toes and rounded prehensile tail.
Usually 16 costal grooves and two nasolabial grooves.
Morphologically, very similar to Aneides vagrans.
Color and Pattern
Dark brown, to pale gray ground color, clouded with greenish gray, pale gold, or reddish blotches scattered with brassy flecks.
Male / Female Differences
Males have broader, more triangular heads than females.
Young have a copper or brassy dorsal stripe.
Life History and Behavior
A member of family Plethodontidae, the Plethodontid or Lungless Salamanders.
Plethodontid salamanders do not breathe through lungs. They conduct respiration through their skin and the tissues lining their mouth. This requires them to live in damp environments on land and to move about on the ground only during times of high humidity. (Plethodontid salamanders native to California do not inhabit streams or bodies of water but they are capable of surviving for a short time if they fall into water.)
Plethodontid salamanders are also distinguished by their naso-labial grooves, which are vertical slits between the nostrils and upper lip that are lined with glands associated with chemoreception.
All Plethodontid Salamanders native to California lay eggs in moist places on land.
The young develop in the egg and hatch directly into a tiny terrestrial salamander with the same body form as an adult.
(They do not hatch in the water and begin their lives as tiny swimming larvae breathing through gills like some other types of salamanders.)
One of the most arboreal salamanders in California, found up to 40 m. above ground.
Males appear to be aggressive and territorial, fighting with other males, and using chemical signals from fecal pellets to mark their territorial boundaries.
Defense tactics include crawling away quickly, remaining motionless, raising up on the legs and waving the tail, and making fast jerky motions, then remaining still.
Diet and Feeding
A generalist feeder, consuming a variety of small invertebrates, including sowbugs, ants, termites, mites spiders, centipedes, and millipedes.
Juveniles eat small prey items at first, with the size of prey increasing as the juveniles grow larger.
Often forages from beneath bark or logs, sitting still and waiting for prey to come close.
Reproduction is terrestrial.
Males mature during their second year, females first reproduce during their third year.
Breeding males have a well-developed mental gland.
In late June and July, females lay a clutch of 9 - 17 eggs in moist places on land, including decomposing logs, and possbly in the forest canopy (where brood sites of A. vagrans have been found.)
Adults may brood the eggs - clutches have been found with a female attending them, with a male and female attending them, and with no adults in attendance.
Young develop completely in the egg and hatch fully formed in late August or September. Juveniles prefer bark litter to rock and leaf litter.
Occurs in wet coastal forests of Douglas fir, cedar, alder, and redwood, often at the borders of clearings. Prefers wetter, less dense stands of forest to dry dense stands. Shelters under bark of standing or fallen dead trees, in rotten logs, under loose bark on the ground, under rocks, in crevices in cliffs, and in road cuts and talus. Prefers decaying Douglas fir logs over other types of wood. Often abundant in recently burned or logged areas having numerous stumps and large amounts of woody debris, and in areas where rock faces or talus provide deep cracks. Tends to shelter under rocks or on rocky slopes more than A. vagrans. It is possible that A. ferreus occupy forest canopy habitat similar to A. vagrans.
In northwestern California, it appears that A. ferreus is associated with decaying logs and rocky areas, while A. vagrans almost exclusively prefers decaying logs. Where this species occurs with A. flavipuncatus, it is found in cooler wetter regions than A. flavipunctatus.
In California, Clouded Salamanders occur only in Del Norte County and northwest Siskiyou County north of
"near the junctions of Hurdygurdy Creek and Goose Creek with the South Fork of the Smith River near the coast, and north of the junction of the Salmon and Klamath rivers further inland." (Staub and Wake, Lannoo, 2005.)
The species ranges north of California along the Oregon coast and the Cascade Mountains to the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon..
From near sea level to 5,400 ft. (1,700 m.)
Notes on Taxonomy
Based on biochemical analysis, Aneides ferreus was split into two species - A. vagrans and A. ferreus, which are similar in appearance and behavior. Old sources show the range of A. ferreus to continue all the way south to northwest Sonoma County, but all former A. ferreus south of extreme northwest Del Norte County in California, and on Vancouver Island, are A. vagrans.
Populations in California south of extreme northwest Del Norte County that were previously labelled as A. ferreus are now known to be a separate species, Aneides vagrans - Wandering Salamander.
Listed as protected in Oregon due to its occurance in highest densites in old growth forests. Populations are assumed to have been lost due to forestry management practices that don't allow the formation of older trees which creates drier forests.
Cope, 1869 - Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, Vol. 21, p. 109
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Joseph Grinnell and Charles Lewis Camp. A Distributional List of the Amphibians and Reptiles of California. University of California Publications in Zoology Vol. 17, No. 10, pp. 127-208. July 11, 1917.
The following conservation status listings for this animal are taken from the October 2021 California "Special Animals List" and the October 2021 "State and Federally Listed Endangered and Threatened Animals of California" list, both of which are produced by multiple agencies and available here: https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Data/CNDDB/Plants-and-Animals. You can check the link to see if there are more recent lists.
If no status is listed here, the animal is not included on either list. This most likely indicates that there are no serious conservation concerns for the animal. To find out more about an animal's status you can go to the NatureServe and IUCN websites to check their rankings.
This salamander is not included on the Special Animals List, meaning there are no significant conservation concerns for it in California according to the California Department of Fish and Game.