CaliforniaHerps.com

A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California


Channel Islands Slender Salamander -
Batrachoseps pacificus

(Cope, 1865)
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Channel Islands Slender Salamander
Range in California: Red


Range Map of all Slender Salamanders in California



observation link





Channel Islands Slender Salamander Channel Islands Slender Salamander Channel Islands Slender Salamander
Adult, Santa Cruz Island, Santa Barbara County
Channel Islands Slender Salamander Channel Islands Slender Salamander Channel Islands Slender Salamander
Adult, Santa Cruz Island, Santa Barbara County
Channel Islands Slender Salamander Channel Islands Slender Salamander Channel Islands Slender Salamander
Adult, Santa Cruz Island,
Santa Barbara County
Adult, Santa Cruz Island, Santa Barbara County
   
Habitat
Channel Islands Slender Salamander Habitat
Channel Islands Slender Salamander Habitat
Channel Islands Slender Salamander Habitat
Santa Cruz Island,
Santa Barbara County
Santa Cruz Island,
Santa Barbara County
Habitat, beach driftwood on
Santa Cruz Island
Channel Islands Slender Salamander Habitat Channel Islands Slender Salamander Habitat  
Habitat, near sea level, Santa Cruz Island, Santa Barbara County Habitat, next to beach,Santa Cruz Island, Santa Barbara County  
   
Description
 
Size
Adults are 1 2/3 - 2 3/4 inches long (4.2 - 7 cm) from snout to vent.

Appearance
A small slim salamander with 18 - 20 costal grooves.
Fairly robust for a Slender Salamander, with relatively long legs.
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
Color is brown to pinkish above with a wide dorsal stripe with indefinite borders, and may be made up of many light speckles. The throat and underside of the tail are pale and the venter is whitish or slate, with light and dark speckling.

Comparison with Sympatric Slender Salamanders
Coexists with B. nigriventris on Santa Cruz Island.
Differentiated by ventral color - dark on B. nigriventris, and light on B. pacificus, and by the darker color, smaller, slimmer body, and thinner limbs of B. nigriventris.

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
Little is known about this species.
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.
The cool marine climate of the Channel Islands, including summer fog, provides enough moisture for this species to be active all year.
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
Most likely 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.
Breeding
Little is know about the breeding behavior of this species.
Eggs
Other species of Slender Salamanders lay eggs in moist places on land.
Young
Young develop completely in the egg and hatch fully formed.

Geographical Range
Endemic to California.
Found only on Santa Cruz, San Miguel, Santa Rosa, and Anacapa Islands.
Elevational Range
From sea level to around 1,410 ft. elevation (430 m).

Habitat
Inhabits coastal scrub, grassland, oak woodland, and beach driftwood.

Notes on Taxonomy
Several Slender Salamander species found on the south coast, in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and in southern California were formerly known as Batrachoseps pacificus. In 2000, Wake and Jockusch placed all but the Channel Islands species in other taxa.

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


Alternate and Previous Names (Synonyms)

Batrachoseps pacificus - Channel Islands Slender Salamander (Stebbins 2003)
Batrachoseps pacificus pacificus - Channel Islands Slender Salamander (Stebbins 1966, 1985)
Batrachoseps attenuatus pacificus - Pacific Worm-salamander (Bishop 1943)
Batrachoseps pacificus - Channel Islands Salamander (Storer 1925)
Batrachoseps pacificus (Yarrow 1883)
Hemidactylium pacificum (Cope 1885)

Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
No threats are known to this species, but it might be vulverable due to its limited isolated island habitat.
Taxonomy
Family Plethodontidae Lungless Salamanders Gray, 1850
Genus Batrachoseps Slender Salamanders Bonaparte, 1841
Species

pacificus Channel Islands Slender Salamander (Cope, 1865)
Original Description
Cope, 1865 - Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, Vol. 17, p. 195

from Original Description Citations for the Reptiles and Amphibians of North America © Ellin Beltz

Meaning of the Scientific Name
Batrachoseps: Greek - amphibian, frog lizard - describes lizard-like appearance.
pacificus: of the Pacific Ocean, referring to its occurance on Northern Channel Islands, off the California coast.

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

Similar Neighboring Salamanders
B. nigriventris
B. m. major

More Information and References
California Department of Fish and Wildlife

AmphibiaWeb

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 G4 Apparently Secure—Uncommon but not rare in the state; some cause for long-term concern due to
declines or other factors.
NatureServe State Ranking S3S4 Vulnerable - Apparently Secure
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 None
IUCN LC Least Concern
 

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