Comprehensive DescriptionRead full entry
A small terrestrial salamander. Stocky with relatively long legs, adults range in size from 4.5 to 5.8 cm snout to vent length (9.5-10.5 cm total length). Modal number of costal grooves is 14. Males are slightly smaller than females and have a mental gland, a raised area on the chin used in courthip. There are indistinct paratoid glands on the back of the head, and the feet are broad and slightly webbed (Brodie and Storm 1970; Petranka 1998). Hatchlings are 15-18 mm snout to vent length (Nussbaum et al. 1983).Three color morphs occur and populations often have 2 or, rarely, all 3. The dark phase is dark brown to black dorsally with a yellow,orange, green, or red stripe that extends to the tip of the tail. The venter is dark and the throat is yellow. The yellow morph has a tan or yellowish ground color dorsally and ventrally, and the rosemorph is similar with a pinkish to salmon coloration over the body (Brodie 1970; Nussbaum et al. 1983).
Plethodon idahoensis was formerly included within P. vandykei, sometimes treated as a subspecies, but mitochondrial data reveal deep divergence between the two (Carstens et al. 2004). Genetic work throughout the range of these forms has supported suggestions that populations in the Rocky Mountains be regarded as a separate species from populations in western Washington (Highton and Larson 1979; Collins 1991; Howard et al. 1993).