I bet you can’t do this.

California slender salamander (Batrachoseps attenuatus)

California slender salamander (Batrachoseps attenuatus)

Cute Amphibian of the Week: November 19, 2012

The California slender salamander (Batrachoseps attenuatus), native to the United States, is known for its extremely long tail that allows it to wrap itself with its own tail giving it the appearance of a snake. Its bulgy eyes and bright coloration add to the charm of this small salamander. This species resides in grasslands with scattered trees, chaparral, woodlands and redwood forests. Perhaps one of its most fascinating features is the fact that it completely lacks lungs and breathes primarily through its skin.

Do not let this adorable salamander’s appearance fool you; this is one tough species that is able to tolerate considerable habitat alteration. When feeding, this species creates a pressure with its muscles, which allows it to dart its tongue and “shoot” its hyoid bone (neck bone) out of its mouth during this endeavor. Its most interesting features, however, are some of its defense mechanisms. It may drop its tail to avoid predation or even release an adhesive skin secretion, which can literally glue its predator’s mouth shut. At the current time the species is listed as least concern by the IUCN.

Photo by Brian Gratwicke, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.

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