Batrachoseps gavilanensis occurs very close to B. luciae and the ranges of both salamanders meet in one region. They are identical in appearance. At one time they were considered to be the same species, B. pacificus.
Coastal Redwood Forest Habitat,
Coastal Redwood Forest Habitat,
Habitat, Monterey County
Habitat, Monterey County
Several Santa Lucia Slender Mountains Slender Salamanders are uncovered in Monterey County.
Adults are 1 1/4 - 1 4/5 inches long (3.2 - 4.6 cm) from snout to vent.
A small slim salamander, with 18-19 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 also typical of Slender Salamanders.
(Other California salamanders have five toes on the hind feet.)
Color and Pattern
The ground color is dark blackish-brown overlayed with a brass or reddish dorsal stripe that is less apparent in older animals. The venter is lighter, grayish brown.
There is some whitish speckling and metallic iridophores
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.)
Active on rainy or wet nights when temperatures are moderate.
Along the fog-cooled coastal side of the mountains, salamanders have been found under surface objects year-round.
On the hotter and drier eastern slopes, they probably aestivate underground in the summer.
Typically found under rocks, logs, bark, and other debris.
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
Most likely eats small invertebrates.
Feeding behavior is not known, but other Batrachoseps species are sit-and-wait predators that use a projectile tongue to catch prey.
Reproduction is terrestrial.
Females lay eggs in moist places on land, underground or under surface objects.
Captive females from two localities laid average egg clutches of 5.1 and 10.6 eggs.
Eggs hatched in an average of 78 days.
One probable communal nest has been found containing 19 eggs and several adult salamanders.
Young develop completely in the egg and hatch fully formed.
Inhabits moist locations in redwood and mixed evergreen forests.
Mostly found on north-facing slopes. Also found in open areas in parks in the city of Monterey.
Endemic to California.
Found along the western slope of the northern Santa Lucia Mountains in Monterey county from the Monterey Peninsula south to near the San Luis Obispo county line, and on the eastern slopes from Arroyo Seco south to at least the 36th parallel. The range limits in southern Monterey County are somewhat in question as B. incognitus is being found in new locations in that area and it is possible the two species may not overlap there.
Notes on Taxonomy
Prior to its description in 2001, B. luciae was recognized as B. pacificus which has been split into ten species based on
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. luciae: derived from the Santa Lucia Mountains, the center of the distribution of this species.
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.
Flaxington, William C. Amphibians and Reptiles of California: Field Observations, Distribution, and Natural History. Fieldnotes Press, Anaheim, California, 2021.
Samuel M. McGinnis and Robert C. Stebbins. Peterson Field Guide to Western Reptiles & Amphibians. 4th Edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2018.
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.
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.
NatureServe Global Ranking
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.