Ambystoma gracile

Identification Tips:

• Large (to 25 cm) and uniformly black or dark brown in colour
• Approximately half body length is tail
• Patches of white or yellowish flecks may be present
• Prominent paratoid glands behind the eyes in terrestrial form OR feathery gills in aquatic form
• Prominent grooves between ribs (10-12)
• Ridge-like gland along top of tail
• Hooded, slightly protruding eyes in terrestrial form

Egg Masses
• Baseball size round or oval in shape with very firm jelly
• Firmly attached to aquatic vegetation, submerged branches or other objects

Conservation Status:

British ColumbiaCanadaNatureserve
COSEWICSpecies at Risk Act
Not at Risk (Yellow List)Not AssessedNoneG5, S4S5

Life History:

• Two forms of this salamander commonly occur and often in the same population
• Terrestrial individuals are usually close to water, hidden in deep leaf litter, underground, or beneath logs
• Aquatic individuals retain their larval gills and commonly occur in ponds and slow moving streams
• Breed from late February to late March in the Fraser Valley; later at elevation
• Female lays single mass of 30-50 eggs in permanent ponds, wetlands, and slow moving streams
• Larvae overwinter at least once
Feed on a wide variety of invertebrates; small larvae consume zooplankton
Exudes white sticky toxin from glands behind eyes and along top of tail when threatened
Rarely preyed upon by fish


• Permanent water bodies including ponds, wetlands, lake and slow moving streams
• Forest, woodlands fields adjacent to water bodies
• Sometimes occur in water with very low oxygen content
• Sea level to over 3000 m elevation


British Columbia
• West of Coast mountains along entire mainland coast
• Vancouver Island, but not Haida Gwaii

• Southeast Alaska to northern California

Primary Information Sources:
 Efauna BC:
 BC Conservation Data Centre: