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


Long-toed Salamander

Long-toed Salamander

Long-toed Salamander, Ambystoma macrodactylum

Long-toed Salamander, Ambystoma macrodactylum, can be found in and around ponds and wetlands and the surrounding forest. It is secretive and shelters under decaying logs or in piles of sloughed-off bark, rodent burrows, or other moist hollows or crevices on the forest floor. This semi-aquatic salamander is medium-sized with total length up to about 165 mm (adult body length to 85 mm). A broad yellow or greenish stripe with irregular edges extends from the neck to near the tail tip where it often breaks into blotches. The sides are black or dark grey with light flecking. The tail is keeled rather than round in cross-section. The common name of the species is derived from the exceptionally long fourth toe (second from the outside) on each hind foot, which is diagnostic. Eggs: The female lays small clusters of 10 – 30 eggs in temporary or permanent ponds or shallow edges of lakes in early spring. The clusters are usually attached to aquatic vegetation, sticks, or other submerged debris. Individual eggs are 2 mm in diameter and surrounded by a thick, soft jelly coat. Aquatic larva has external gills on each side of the head and slender legs. The gills appear orderly with side filaments gradually shortening towards the tip. Often there is a long spike near the tip of the gill stalk. The head is large with a broad snout. Larvae are brownish grey or tan with fine darker flecking. They usually metamorphose into terrestrial forms in the late summer of the same year. At some localities they retain larval characteristics into adulthood and never leave the water. Metamorphosed juveniles resemble adults.