This creature is a lungless salamander that is found primarily in coastal mountain areas of Northern California. It is very commonly encountered and I’ve seen several on my current trip to the Golden State.
Its “slender” image comes from short limbs, a long, slender body with a narrow head and a very long tail. This gives them a worm-like appearance.
Like other lungless salamanders, they conduct respiration through their skin and their mouth tissues, which requires them to live in damp environments on land and to move about on the ground only during times of high humidity.
As you might imagine, an animal this small has plenty of predators. For defense. the California Slender Salamander Slender salamanders use several defense tactics, including coiling and remaining still, relying on cryptic coloring to avoid detection.
They also can uncoil quickly and spring away, repeatedly bouncing over the ground, then remaining still again to avoid detection. If grapped this amphibian can detach its tail, which wriggles on the ground to distract a predator from the salamander long enough for it to escape.
They are predators themselves, and use a sit-and-wait technique, catching prey that wanders by with their projectile tongue. Their diet consists of a variety of invertebrates, including springtails, small beetles, snails, mites, spiders and isopods.
The lifestyle of this tiny salamander remind me of one that I frequently encounter in my home state of Ohio – the Redback Salamander. Seeing either amphibian in the field is always an enjoyable experience.