A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California

Scott Bar Salamander - Plethodon asupak

Mead, Clayton, Nauman, Olson and Pfrender, 2005
Click on a picture for a larger view

Scott Bar Salamander range map
Range in California: Red

observation link

Scott Bar Salamander Scott Bar Salamander Scott Bar Salamander
  Adult, Siskiyou County  
Scott Bar Salamander Scott Bar Salamander Scott Bar Salamander
  Adult, Siskiyou County  
Scott Bar Salamander Scott Bar Salamander Scott Bar Salamander
Adult, and juvenile, Siskiyou County
© Tim Burkhardt
Sub-adult, Siskiyou County
Juvenile, Siskiyou County
Scott Bar Salamander Scott Bar Salamander Scott Bar Salamander
  Sub-adult, Siskiyou County  
Scott Bar Salamander Scott Bar Salamander Scott Bar Salamander
Adult, Siskiyou County © Alan Barron Juvenile, Siskiyou County © Alan Barron
Scott Bar Salamander Scott Bar Salamander  
Adult, Siskiyou County Underside of adult, Siskiyou County  
Scott Bar Salamander Habitat Scott Bar Salamander Habitat Scott Bar Salamander Habitat
Habitat, Siskiyou County
Habitat, Siskiyou County Habitat, Siskiyou County
Scott Bar Salamander Habitat Scott Bar Salamander Habitat  
Scott River, Siskiyou County Habitat, Siskiyou County  
Adults are aproximately 2.24 inches long (5.7 cm) from snout to vent length.

Similar in appearance to and closely related to P. elongatus and P. stormi.
A medium-sized salamander, more robust with a wider head and longer limbs than P. elongatus and P. stormi.
17 costal grooves with 2.5 - 3.5 intercostal folds between adpressed limbs.
The tail is slightly more than 80% of the snout to vent length (compared to 85 - 90% for P. elongatus and P. stormi.)
Color and Pattern
The sides of the body are chocolate brown, with brown and black pigmentation.
The upper back and head are distinguished from the sides with a brown and bronze dorsal stripe, which extends from the head to the tail tip.
White and yellow flecks cover most of the body, and are concentrated on the sides and limbs.
The venter is mottled, with light gray patches on a dark gray to purplish background, and white flecking, especially on the throat.
Eyes are black with varying amounts of gold flecking on the upper and lower surface.
Juveniles have two orange to reddish-brown stripes extending from just behind the eyes to the tail.
Just below the vent region the stripes fuse into a single stripe.
The sides of the stripes are black with the sides of the body dark brown.

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.)
Little is known about this species.
Behavior is presumed to be similar to P. stormi and P. elongatus: active on rainy or wet nights.
Activity period is probably limited to late winter and early spring, and possibly early fall, due to the summer dryness and winter freezing of the habitat.
Diet and Feeding
Little is known about the diet of this species.
The diets of the related allopatric species P. elongatus and P. stormi consist primarily of small invertebrates, including spiders, mites, beetles, and moths.
Little is known about the breeding behavior of this species.
Reproduction is terrestrial.
If breeding in P. asupak is similar to the related allopatric species P. stormi, mating probably occurs in the spring, with females laying eggs in underground nests in spring or early summer and brooding them until fall.
Females lay eggs.
Young develop completely in the egg, hatch fully formed and probably remain underground until the following spring.

Geographical Range
Endemic to California.
Found in a very small area of the Siskiyou Mountains in extreme northern Siskiyou county near the confluence of the Klamath and Scott Rivers.
This range is only a few miles east of the range of P. stormi.
Elevational Range
The elevation of the known range is aprox. 1500 - 2000 ft. (460 - 610 m).

Associated with rocky forested areas, especially thick moss-covered talus.

Notes on Taxonomy
Described in 2005.
Closely related to, but determined to be morphologically and genetically distinct enough from closely-occurring P. elongatus and P. stormi, to be given full species status.

Alternate and Previous Names (Synonyms)

Before being separated as a unique species in 2005, this species would have been know as either

Plethodon stormi - Siskiyou Mountains Salamander or
Plethodon elongatus - Del Norte Salamander

Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
The range of this salamander is smaller than that of any other Northwest amphibian. It's fragile forest talus microhabitat could be easily destroyed.
Family Plethodontidae Lungless Salamanders Gray, 1850
Genus Plethodon Woodland Salamanders Tschudi, 1838

asupak Scott Bar Salamander Mead, Clayton, Nauman, Olson and Pfrender, 2005
Original Description
Herpetologica, 61(2), 2005, 158–177: Louise S. Mead, David R. Clayton, Richard S. Naumann, Deanna H. Olson, and Michael E. Pfrender

Meaning of the Scientific Name
Plethodon: Greek - fullness or full of & teeth, refers to the number of vomerine & pre-vomerine teeth.
asupak: The Shasta Indian name for Scott Bar, the type locality.

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

Similar Neighboring Salamanders
Plethodon stormi - Siskiyou Mountains Salamander
Plethodon elongatus - Del Norte Salamander

More Information and References
California Department of Fish and Wildlife


Herpetologica, 61(2), 2005, 158–177 

Louise S. Mead 1,5,6, David R. Clayton 2, Richard S. Naumann 3, Deanna H. Olson 3, and Michael E. Pfrender 4
1Department of Zoology, 3029 Cordley Hall, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
2U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Roseburg Field Office, 2900 NW Stewart Parkway, Roseburg, OR 97470, USA
3USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, 3200 SW Jefferson Way, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
4Department of Biology, Utah State University, 5305 Old Main Hill road, Logan, UT 84322, USA

Jones, Lawrence L. C. , William P. Leonard, Deanna H. Olson, editors. Amphibians of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle Audubon Society, 2005. (This book has photos and a description.)

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.

Before its discovery, P. asupak was included with P. stormi or P. elongatus, which are described in the books below:

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.

Special Animals List Notes:

1) Newly described species from what was part of the range of Plethodon stormi (Mead et al. 2005).

2) Since this newly described species was formerly considered to be a subpopulation of Plethodon stormi, and since Plethodon stormi is listed as Threatened under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA), Plethodon asupak retains the designation as a Threatened species under CESA (Calif. Regulatory Notice Register, No. 21-Z, p.916, 25 May 2007).

Status Listing
NatureServe Global Ranking G1G2 Critically Imperiled - Imperiled
NatureServe State Ranking S1S2 Critically Imperiled - Imperiled
U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) None
California Endangered Species Act (CESA) ST - 6/27/71 Threatened
California Department of Fish and Wildlife None
Bureau of Land Management None
USDA Forest Service None
IUCN VU Vulnerable

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 -