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A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California







Aberrant Salamanders

 










observation link

 
Due to unusual skin coloring, markings, skin texture, or other unusual physical features
or deformities, these salamanders do not look like typical members of their species.

Mole Salamanders - Ambystoma Climbing Salamanders - Aneides Slender Salamanders - Batrachoseps
Giant Salamanders - Dicamptodon Ensatina Pacific Newts - Taricha
  Miscellaneous genera  

Mole Salamanders (Ambystoma)
Santa Cruz Long-toed Salamander Santa Cruz Long-toed Salamander Southern Long-toed Salamanders  
This dark and nearly unmarked adult Santa Cruz Long-toed Salamander was observed in Santa Cruz County. © James Maughn Normally-pigmented (top)
and Melanistic (bottom)
Southern Long-toed Salamanders.
 
CA Tiger Salamander Egg CA Tiger Salamander Larva    
Light-colored morph California Tiger Salamander larva from a turbid pool in Solano County
© Marcia Grefsrud/CDFW
Grefsrud told me that CTS researchers Trenham and Searcy have noticed light-colored morph larvae in turbid water and darker morph larvae in clear water.
Pale, possibly albino, California Tiger Salamander larva, Alameda County, seined by Permitted biologists.
© Michael Starkey
   
       
Climbing Salamanders (Aneides)
Speckled Black Salamander Speckled Black Salamander Arboreal Salamander
Albino juvenile Speckled Black Salamander found in Mendocino County © Isaac Krone These unusualy-pigmented adult Arboreal Salamanders were found together in San Luis Obispo County -
Unspotted (left)
Leucistic (right)
© Ryan Sikola
Arboreal Salamander Arboreal Salamander Arboreal Salamander Arboreal Salamander
Leucistic adult Arboreal Salamander, San Luis Obispo County © Ryan Sikola Adult Arboreal Salamander with no light spotting, San Luis Obispo County
© Ryan Sikola
Unusually pale adult Arboreal Salamander, Marin County  Andre Giraldi.

This salamander is much lighter in color than a typical Arboreal Salamander. Other typically colored salamanders were found near it. It could be missing some of its melanin or dark pigment, or its appearance could be a result of the salamander changing its color from dark to light, which was described by Robert Stebbins.
Arboreal Salamander Arboreal Salamander Arboreal Salamander  
This adult Arboreal Salamander from Santa Clara County has a mottled head. © Katherine Hughes Top: Typical Arboreal Salamander.
Bottom: Pigmentless adult Arboreal Salamander.
Both were found in the same general location in Contra Costa County.
© 2006 John Schilling
 
       
Slender Salamanders (Batrachoseps)
California Slender Salamander California Slender Salamander California Slender Salamander California Slender Salamander
Albino adult California Slender Salamander, Alameda County. © Damon Tighe
(The dark areas under the skin above the eyes is not caused by melanin, the dark pigment.)
Unusually dark, possibly melanistic, California Slender Salamander, Del Norte County © Alan Barron
California Slender Salamander California Slender Salamander California Slender Salamander California Slender Salamander
Adult California Slender Salamanders from Alameda County © Damon Tighe
Bottom/Left: Albino salamander
Top/Right: Normally-pigmented salamander
This California Slender Salamander (missing most of its tail) appears to lack all pigment, making it either albino or leucistic (the eye color is not known.)
© Evan Mehta
California Slender Salamander      
Adult California Slender Salamander, San Francisco County, with a forked tail. The extra fork probably grew from a break in the tail that did not cause the original tail to detach. © Zach Lim      
       
Giant Salamanders (Dicamptodon)
California Giant Salamander California Giant Salamander California Giant Salamander California Giant Salamander
This terrestrial adult California Giant Salamander with an unusual "obese" appearance was found in a pool in a creek in San Mateo County in mid July. (According to salamander experts who have seen these pictures, this condition may be an extensive subcutaneous edema caused by an infection or from failure, also known as dropsy, or water retention. Or it might be caused by an oxygen consumption problem.
© Jaeda Chin
This terrestrial adult, found in water in Spring in southern Santa Cruz County, shows a similar abnormal appearance to the salamander in the photos to the left.
© Barry Sinervo
California Giant Salamander California Giant Salamander    
Unusually warty neotenic adult California Giant Salamander (about 7 inches in length) found in a stream in Santa Cruz County.  © Ian Gaston
I have not yet discovered the origin of this warty condition or if it is known in this species. A similar warty condition has been found in California Newts found in San Diego County. That condition was determined to be from disease.
This is a smaller less-warty aquatic California Giant Salamander from the same area in Santa Cruz County as the one to the left.
© Ian Gaston
   
       
Ensatina (Ensatina)
Large-blotched Ensatina Large-blotched Ensatina Large-blotched Ensatina Large-blotched Ensatina
Here you can see two typical subspecies (maybe species) and a hybrid of the two all found in the same part of San Diego County. © Paul Maier

Top - Monterey Ensatina

Middle
- Monterey Ensatina x Large-blotched Ensatina hybrid

Bottom
- Large-blotched Ensatina

San Diego County Monterey Ensatina x Large-blotched Ensatina hybrid adult
© Jeff Nordland
San Diego County Monterey Ensatina x Large-blotched Ensatina hybrid adult
© Alex Bairstow
Sierra Nevada Ensatina Yellow-eyed Ensatina Sierra Nevada Ensatina Sierra Nevada Ensatina
Oregon Ensatina x Sierra Nevada Ensatina, Shasta County Yellow-eyed Ensatina x Sierra Nevada Ensatina, Calaveras County
© Chad M. Lane
This adult and juvenile were found near Twain Harte in Tuolumne County, which is in the contact or hybrid zone between the Yellow-eyed Ensatina and the
Sierra Nevada Ensatina
,
© Taryn Horn
Unusually-colored Sierra Nevada Ensatina from the Kern Plateau  © 2003 Brad Alexander
Sierra Nevada Ensatina Sierra Nevada Ensatina Sierra Nevada Ensatina
© David Thompson This pale adult Sierra Nevada Ensatina was found in Placer County not far from the range of the Yellow-eyed Ensatina, so its unusual appearance might be due to intergradation or hybridization.
Unusually-pigmented adult Sierra Nevada Ensatina, El Dorado County
© Richard Porter
Large-blotched Ensatina Large-blotched Ensatina Large-blotched Ensatina Large-blotched Ensatina
Hypomelanistic adult Large-blotched Ensatina, San Diego County
© Jeff Nordland
Piebald juvenile Large-blotched EnsatinaSan Diego County
© Jeff Nordland
Piebald adult Large-blotched Ensatina, San Diego County
© Jeff Nordland
San Diego County Monterey Ensatina x Large-blotched Ensatina hybrid adult
© Paul Maier
Painted Ensatina Painted Ensatina Large-blotched Ensatina Large-blotched Ensatina
Aberrantly-pigmented adult Painted Ensatina, Del Norte County © Seth Erickson
San Diego County Monterey Ensatina x Large-blotched Ensatina hybrid adult
San Diego County © Jeff Nordland
Oregon Ensatina Oregon Ensatina Large-blotched Ensatina
This adult with unusual dark blotches on the skin was found in southern Marin County. © Max Benningfield San Diego County Monterey Ensatina x Large-blotched Ensatina hybrid adult
© Anthony Mercieca
Monterey Ensatina Monterey Ensatina    
Pale, probably Leucistic, Adult Monterey Ensatina, San Bernardino County. 
© Brian Hinds
   
       
Pacific Newts (Taricha)
California Newt California Newt  
This unusually pigmented adult California Newt was photographed in Santa Cruz County © Mary Yan.
It appears to be missing its dark pigment, but the eyes are dark so it's not an albino, it's leucistic or maybe hypomelanistic.
 
Rough-skinned Newt Rough-skinned Newt Rough-skinned Newt
This apparently leucistic juvenile Rough-skinned Newt was found in Santa Cruz County © Bebe Maag This unusually-colored Rough-skinned Newt, photographed in a shallow creek on the northern Sonoma County coast, has gray skin, black bumps on its back (its "rough skin"), and there is a little bit of the natural color remaining on some of its toes and behind at least one of its legs. (What looks like a split in the tail, is probably the top of the dorsal fin seen from directly above.) © Dorothy Yerxa
California Newt California Newt Sierra Newt Sierra Newt
This unusually pale-skinned blotched California Newt was found in Santa Clara County © Cait Hutnik
(See more pictures of this newt on Cait's website.)
Hypomelanistic adult Sierra Newt in breeding phase, Mariposa County
© Casey Moss
Hypomelanistic adult Sierra Newt (right)
Typically-colored adult Sierra Newt (left)
Both in breeding phase,
Mariposa County © Casey Moss
Rough-skinned Newt Rough-skinned Newt Rough-skinned Newt  
This unusual Rough-skinned Newt with a light ground color and dark blotches, was found near the coast in Tillamook County, Oregon in an area with many other typically-colored newts. © Matt D'Agrosa and Yvonne Stotler This is a short video of the newt described to the left.
© Matt D'Agrosa and Yvonne Stotler
 
Rough-skinned Newt Rough-skinned Newt Rough-skinned Newt  
Adult Rough-skinned Newt with an unusually pale venter that could be due to an auto-immune issue. © Spencer Riffle (For comparison with the photos to the left, this is a Rough-skinned Newt
with a normally-pigmented venter)
 
California Newt California Newt California Newt  
This adult newt has all black eyes. It was found just north of the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River in Tulare County, where newts have been identified as mostly the California Newt, but since it is in the hybrid zone with the Sierra Newt, it could be either species or a hybrid. Both of these species typically have patches of gold coloring in the eyes. © Caitlin Kupar  
       
Miscellaneous Genera
Western Red-backed Salamander Western Red-backed Salamander    
Melanistic adult Western Red-backed Salamander, Lewis County, Washington    
       












































     

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