I found this cool creature while herping the Golden State. They can measure up to 5-1/2 inches in total length. As their name implies, they are often solid black, though they sometimes sport a few fine white specks.
This amphibian belongs to a large group known as Lungless Salamanders; they do not breathe through lungs, instead they conduct respiration through their skin and the tissues lining their mouth. This requires them to live in damp environments on land and travel only during times of high humidity.
The Santa Cruz Black Salamander lives in forested areas and grasslands, where it uses rock slides, rotten logs and surface debris for cover. Like most salamanders, it feeds on small invertebrates such as spiders, beetles, ants and termites.
This is a terrestrial amphibian that does not need standing or flowing water for breeding or any other part of its life cycle, although it may be found close to creeks or seeps. There is direct development of eggs into juveniles that resemble miniature adults, except with some color variation.
It was enjoyable to make my acquaintance with this animal, which only lives within a very limited range and is endemic to California.