IUCN threat status:

Near Threatened (NT)

Brief Summary

Read full entry


Dicamptodon ensatus (California giant salamander) is a large, terrestrial amphibian in the family of giant salamanders, or Dicamptodontidae. Its native range is the southernmost of the four extant species in this family of the largest living terrestrial salamanders and is limited to coastal areas in central California, primarily north of San Francisco Bay. Their genus and species nomenclature most likely refers to the possession of two curved or compressed, sword-shaped teeth carried by paired premaxilla bones (Duellman and Trueb 1994). Adult salamanders are about 6-17 cm from snout to vent and about 17-30 cm in total length (Petranka 1998). In their terrestrial adult stage, their tail, which accounts for 40% of their total body length, is laterally compressed (flattened sideways) in order to aid them in swimming (Gonder 1999). California giant salamanders are easily identifiable purely by their large size, but can also be recognized by the black markings, blotches, or marbling on their bodies. These salamanders are brown to light brown, but can vary in color to include coppery brown, red, and yellow. They can be found in damp forests under rocks and logs and around permanent and semi-permanent streams. Larvae are more abundant than adults and are commonly found in mountain streams (Petranka 1998). D. ensatus can be distinguished from the Pacific, or coastal giant salamander (D. tenebrosus), as the latter species, which lives from Mendocino County, California northward through western Oregon and Washington (except for the Olympic Peninsula) to southern British Columbia, has fewer teeth in the upper jaw and shows finer-grained mottling on their backs that typically does not extend to their undersides (Fellers and Kuchta 2005; Stebbins 2003).


Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Authors: Gabriela Cabeza,Jessica Dirks, Erin Savoy. Editor: Gordon Miller, Seattle University EVST 2100 - Natural History: Theory and Practice

Supplier: seattleu_natural_history

Belongs to 0 communities

This taxon hasn't been featured in any communities yet.

Learn more about Communities


EOL content is automatically assembled from many different content providers. As a result, from time to time you may find pages on EOL that are confusing.

To request an improvement, please leave a comment on the page. Thank you!