Pacific Giant Salamander

Dicamptodon tenebrosus

The Pacific giant salamander is the largest terrestrial salamander in North America. Although it lives in a limited area of British Columbia’s southwest, the Chilliwack River watershed, this species ranges along the U.S. Pacific coast from Washington to northern California, where it may be known as the Coastal Giant Salamander. Known for its “bark” and its bite if attacked, this amphibian has two phases of life: the larval state in an aquatic environment; and the metamorphosed adult state, in either an aquatic or terrestrial environment. The Pacific giant salamander is an “Endangered Species” in Canada and is on the “Red List” in British Columbia. The B.C. Wildlife Act protects the Pacific giant salamander by forbidding its killing, collection, or captivity without a permit.

Characteristics

The Pacific giant salamander can reach a total length of 33–35.5 cm (13–14 in.). The smooth skin of an adult often has a light tan, copper, gold or grey marbling against a dark brown or black ground colour. In British Columbia, the marbling effect is absent from the throat and underside of the limbs. It has four legs and a strong, distinct head with large eyes; it has teeth in both jaws. The tail is not round, but flattened laterally, like an eel, which aids in swimming…

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