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Sightings arranged by: Taxonomy Location Date Scientific Name
Dicamptodon ensatus — California Giant Salamander
Fellow field herper Fred Harer was kind enough to spend a day with me hunting for this large salamander in an area where he had seen both the aquatic larval form and the terrestrial adult form previously. We got off to a slow start, finding only one smallish and quite dead adult in our first half an hour or so of turning over logs and rocks in and near the creek. Our luck turned for the better soon, as we uncovered seven or eight smallish aquatic form salamanders (well, smallish for Giant Salamanders, yet Godzilla-like compared to most salamanders in the area.)
Eventually Fred came across the much larger (but still larval) specimen in the third and fourth pictures above. That one looked like it was on the verge of making the leap to terrestrial adulthood; it even tried to escape from our fingers and cameras primarily by crawling out of the water.
We weren't lucky enough to encounter a transformed terrestrial adult on this day, but I'm sure I'll be back someday to try again.
A year later, Fred Harer and I went looking for terrestrial California Giant Salamanders at Uvas Canyon County Park again. Fred uncovered this lovely fellow after we had searched for a couple of hours. This is actually a small terrestrial California Giant Salamander, but still quite huge compared to most salamanders.
I was killing some time in Butano State Park one late morning in August, waiting for the sun to heat things up enough that some lizards and snakes might put in an appearance. I didn't expect to see any salamanders at this time of year, but out of habit I looked under a hunk of bark or two to discover this big beauty.
- Dicamptodon ensatus account on CaliforniaHerps.com
- Behler, J. L., King, F. W. 1979. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles & Amphibians
- Crother, B. I. (ed.) 2017. Scientific and Standard English Names of Amphibians and Reptiles of North America North of Mexico, with Comments Regarding Confidence in Our Understanding, Eighth Edition
- Petranka, J. W. 1998. Salamanders of the United States and Canada
- Stebbins, R. C. 2003. Peterson Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians, Third Edition