Protecting and enhancing the natural values of Salt Spring Island and its surrounding waters



Ensatina, Ensatina eschscholtzii
Ensatina, Ensatina eschscholtzii, spends its entire life, from egg to adult, on the forest floor, where it shelters under or within decaying logs, stumps, or piles of sloughed-off bark, or other coarse woody debris or in rodent burrows or other moist crevices. It is a small slender salamander with total length up to 120 mm (adult body length 50 – 60 mm). The head and eyes are large, and the limbs are relatively long. The colour is uniform pinkish brown; the base of legs and the digits often have a yellow tinge, and yellow or brown flecking is sometimes present on the sides. The tail has a characteristic narrower constriction at the base. Eggs are well hidden in moist sites on the forest floor and seldom found. They are 5 – 8 mm in diameter, whitish or cream-coloured when newly laid, and occur in clusters of up to about 25 eggs. Eggs are best identified by the presence of the female, often curled around the eggs. Terrestrial young occupy similar habitats as adults on the forest floor; there is no aquatic larval stage. Hatchlings are small (25 mm in total length) and very slender. They are mottled with black or dark grey, with lighter flecking, but lose the mottling as they grow. The base of each leg is bright yellow. The constriction at the tail base may be subtle and difficult to see in very small individuals.