CaliforniaHerps.com

A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California


San Simeon Slender Salamander - Batrachoseps incognitus

Jockusch, Yanev & Wake, 2001
Click on a picture for a larger view



San Simeon Slender Salamander Range Map
Range in California: Red

Dot-locality Range Map

Range Map of all Slender Salamanders in California



observation link





San Simeon Slender Salamander San Simeon Slender Salamander San Simeon Slender Salamander
Adult, San Luis Obispo County Adult, San Luis Obispo County Adult, San Luis Obispo County
San Simeon Slender Salamander San Simeon Slender Salamander San Simeon Slender Salamander
Adult, with regenerating tail, San Luis Obispo County
San Simeon Slender Salamander San Simeon Slender Salamander San Simeon Slender Salamander
Adult, Monterey County
© William Flaxington
Adult, San Luis Obispo County
© Ryan Sikola
Adult, San Luis Obispo County
  slender salamander toes  
  Slender Salmanders (genus Batrachoseps) have only 4 toes on their hind feet. All other California salamanders have 5 toes on their hind feet.  
     
Comparisons with the sympatric Black-bellied Slender Salamander
San Simeon Slender Salamander Comparison San Simeon Slender Salamander Comparison San Simeon Slender Salamander Comparison
The Black-bellied Slender Salamander, Batrachoseps nigriventris, shown above on the bottom, occurs in most of the range of B. incognitus, shown on the top. Their appearance is very similar, but B. incognitus has slightly larger legs, toes and neck.
Comparisons of B. nigriventris and B. incognitus
   
Habitat
San Simeon Slender Salamander Habitat San Simeon Slender Salamander Habitat San Simeon Slender Salamander Habitat
Habitat, San Luis Obispo County Habitat, San Luis Obispo County Habitat, San Luis Obispo County
San Simeon Slender Salamander Habitat San Simeon Slender Salamander Habitat San Simeon Slender Salamander Habitat
Habitat, San Luis Obispo County San Simeon, San Luis Obispo County Habitat, San Luis Obispo County
     
Description
 
Size
Adults are 1  1/2 - 1  9/10 inches long (3.8 - 4.8 cm) from snout to vent.

Appearance
A small thin salamander with 18-20 costal grooves.
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.

There are four toes on the front and hind feet, which is typical of all Slender Salamanders.
(Other California salamanders have five toes on the hind feet.)
Color and Pattern
Ground color is dark grey to brown or reddish brown.
There may be a faint dorsal stripe.
The venter is lighter in color than the dorsum and finely speckled.

Comparison With Sympatric Slender Salamanders
Co-exists with B. nigriventris in some areas.
B. incognitus
is the larger, more robust, of the two species, with longer limbs and a broader neck and head than B. nigriventris.
The digits of the toes are individually distinct, and easier to see when compared to B. nigriventris which has smaller digits.

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 their mouth tissues, which 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 some 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.)
Activity
Active on rainy or wet nights when temperatures are moderate, fall through spring.
Surface acivity has been observed from mid January to early June, but activity probably begins with the first fall precipitation in October or November and may continue after the rains when cool temperatures and moisture are provided by marine fog drip.
Retreats underground when the soil dries or when air temperature drops to near freezing.
Usually found under rocks, logs, bark, and other debris.
Defense
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 known, but other Batrachoseps species are sit-and-wait predators that use a projectile tongue to catch prey.
Breeding
Reproduction is terrestrial. 
Little is known about the breeding behavior of this species.
Eggs
Typically, Batrachoseps females lay eggs in moist places underground.
Young
Young develop completely in the egg and hatch fully formed.

Geographical Range
Endemic to the central coast of California. Found only in the Santa Lucia Mountains in northwestern San Luis Obispo County and extreme southwestern Monterey County, where the mountains meet the ocean.
Elevational Range
From sea level to near 3,280 ft. (1,000 m.)

Habitat
Inhabits open and closed forests of yellow pine, laurel, sycamore, and oak woodland.

Notes on Taxonomy

Prior to its description in 2001, B. incognitus was recognized as B. pacificus which has been split into ten species based on
molecular studies.

Here's a Diagram of the Batrachoseps Complex showing the relationships between species.


Alternate and Previous Names (Synonyms)

Batrachoseps incognitus - San Simeon Slender Salamander (Jockusch, Yanev, Wake 2001, Stebbins 2003, 2012)
Batrachoseps pacificus - Pacific Slender Salamander (Stebbins 1985)
Batrachoseps attenuatus - California Slender Salamander (Stebbins 1954, 1966)
Batrachoseps attenuatus attenuatus - Worm-salamander (Bishop 1943)
Batrachoseps attenuatus - Slender Salamander (Storer 1925)
Batrachoseps nigriventris (Cope 1869)
Batrachoseps attenuatus (Cooper 1868)
Batrachoseps attenuata (Baird 1850)
Salamandrina attenuata (Eschscholtz 1833)

Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
No significant threats are known to this species, but its small range on mostly private property and its similarity to other species make it difficult to survey and get a clear picture of its status.
Taxonomy
Family Plethodontidae Lungless Salamanders Gray, 1850
Genus Batrachoseps Slender Salamanders Bonaparte, 1841
Species

incognitus San Simeon Slender Salamander Jockusch, Yanev & Wake, 2001
Original Description
Elizabeth L. Jockusch, Kay P. Yanev, and David B. Wake ''Molecular phylogenetic analysis
of slender salamanders, genus Batrachoseps (Amphibia: Plethodontidae), from central coastal
California with descriptions of four new species.'' Herpetological Monographs, #15 2001.

Meaning of the Scientific Name
Batrachoseps: Greek - amphibian, frog lizard - describes lizard-like appearance.
incognitus: Latin - unknown, in reference to the unexpected discovery that these populations constitute a distinct
species, and to its small geographic range.

from Scientific and Common Names of the Reptiles and Amphibians of North America - Explained © Ellin Beltz

Similar Neighboring Salamanders
Batrachoseps nigriventris
Batrachoseps minor
Batrachoseps luciae
Batrachoseps gavilanensis

More Information and References
California Department of Fish and Wildlife

AmphibiaWeb

Elizabeth L. Jockusch, Kay P. Yanev, and David B. Wake ''Molecular phylogenetic analysis of slender salamanders, genus Batrachoseps (Amphibia: Plethodontidae), from central coastal California with descriptions of four new species.'' Herpetological Monographs, #15 2001.

Stebbins, Robert C., and McGinnis, Samuel M.  Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of California: Revised Edition (California Natural History Guides) University of California Press, 2012.

Stebbins, Robert C. California Amphibians and Reptiles. The University of California Press, 1972.

Stebbins, Robert C. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. 3rd Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003.

Behler, John L., and F. Wayne King. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. Alfred A. Knopf, 1992.

Powell, Robert., Joseph T. Collins, and Errol D. Hooper Jr. A Key to Amphibians and Reptiles of the Continental United States and Canada. The University Press of Kansas, 1998.

Bartlett, R. D. & Patricia P. Bartlett. Guide and Reference to the Amphibians of Western North America (North of Mexico) and Hawaii. University Press of Florida, 2009.

Bishop, Sherman C. Handbook of Salamanders. Cornell University Press, 1943.

Lannoo, Michael (Editor). Amphibian Declines: The Conservation Status of United States Species. University of California Press, June 2005.

Petranka, James W. Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution, 1998.


Conservation Status

The following status listings come from the Special Animals List and the Endangered and Threatened Animals List which are published by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.



Organization
Status Listing
NatureServe Global Ranking G2G3 Imperiled - Vulnerable
NatureServe State Ranking S2

Imperiled in the state because of rarity due to very restricted range, very few populations (often 20 or fewer), steep declines, or other factors making it very vulnerable to extirpation from the state.

U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) None
California Endangered Species Act (CESA) None
California Department of Fish and Wildlife None
Bureau of Land Management None
USDA Forest Service S Sensitive
IUCN Not listed
 

Home Site Map About Us Identification Lists Maps Photos More Lists CA Snakes CA Lizards CA Turtles CA Salamanders CA Frogs
Contact Us Usage Resources Rattlesnakes Sounds Videos FieldHerping Yard Herps Behavior Herp Fun CA Regulations
Beyond CA All Herps


Return to the Top

 © 2000 -