Females average 1.4 inches (35.5 mm) in length from snout to vent, males average of 1.35 inches (34.3 mm) in length.
A small slender salamander with a relatively broad flattened head and long legs with relatively large feet.
The tail is relatively short and rarely exceeds the total body length.
Short limbs, a narrow head, long slender body, very long tail, and conspicuous costal and caudal grooves give this species the worm-like appearance typical of most Slender Salamanders.
This species is relatively large and robust when compared with many Slender Salamanders, having a comparitively broader head, longer legs, broader feet, and larger toes.
There are four toes on the front and hind feet, which is also typical of Slender Salamanders.
(Other California salamanders have five toes on the hind feet.)
Has 1-3 fewer trunk vertebrae, a longer broader head, and larger limbs with larger feet than neighboring B. simatus.
Color and Pattern
Color is black to brownish black, with silvery to gold or brassy metallic speckles. Coloring may give the appearance of a dorsal stripe. Uniformly flat black underneath with metallic speckling.
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.)
Little is known about this species.
This species has been observed active at night during winter and early spring
found beneath surface objects under snow.
Most Slender Salamander species are active on rainy or wet nights when temperatures are moderate, fall through spring, retreating underground when the soil dries or when air temperature drops to near freezing.
At higher elevations, activity may be restricted to spring and early summer and early fall.
Individuals are typically found beneath rocks, logs, bark and leaf-litter during periods of high moisture, November to March or April, but often only February and March.
Slender salamanders use several defense tactics, including:
- Coiling and remaining still, relying on cryptic coloring to avoid detection.
- Uncoiling quickly and springing away repeatedly bouncing over the ground, then remaining still again to avoid detection.
- Detaching the tail, which wriggles on the ground to distract a predator from the salamander long enough for it to escape.
(After its tail is detached or severed, the salamander will grow a new tail.)
Diet and Feeding
Probably eats a variety of small invertebrates.
Feeding behavior is not well known, but other Batrachoseps species are sit-and-wait predators that use a projectile tongue to catch prey.
Reproduction is terrestrial.
Nothing is known of the reproduction of B. bramei.
Like other low to mid- elevation Slender Salamanders, it is assumed that this species lays eggs on land between December and February, depending on stimulation by rainfall, which varies year to year.
Young presumably hatch in early spring, fully formed.
Favors north-facing talus-covered slopes in narrow canyons. These areas typically do not get sun in winter and remain moist and cool into the spring.
Endemic to California. Found only in the Upper Kern River Canyon along the west side of Lake Isabella, on the east and west sides of the river, from Wofford Heights north to 1 kilometer north of where South Falls Creek flows into the Kern River.
May be found to range farther north where surveys have not been thorough.
Not found in sympatry with any other slender salamander species. The nearest B. simatus locality is 13 km south. B. robustus has been found 7 km east, but at a much higher elevation.
Found at elevations of 2821 - 4200 ft. (860-1280 m.)
Notes on Taxonomy
Upper Kern River Canyon slender salamanders have been recognized as morphologically different from B. simatus - Kern Canyon Slender Salamander since Brame and Murray's work in 1968. They have been included with B. simatus, but mostly treated as a unique species pending a formal description. The species description was eventually published in February 2012 by Jockush, et al. *
B. bramei was formerly recognized as B. simatus - Kern Canyon Slender Salamander. Until it is recognized and treated separately from B. simatus, I will continue to use the status of B. simatus for B. bramei.
Jockusch et al mention that the species might be subject to negative impacts from heavy fire-suppression equipment and road maintenance, but that it is apparently more abundant and more easily found than B. simatus which is listed as a Threatened Species.
The following conservation status listings for this animal are taken from the November 2020 California "Special Animals List" and the November 2020 "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.
The CDFW now lists B. bramei as a unique species.
NatureServe Global Ranking
Vulnerable—At moderate risk of extinction due to a restricted range, relatively few populations (often 80 or fewer), recent and widespread declines, or other factors.
NatureServe State Ranking
Vulnerable in the state due to a restricted range, relatively few populations (often 80 or fewer), recent and widespread declines, or other factors making it vulnerable to extirpation from the state.