Coast Redwood Forest Trail

Coastal Giant Salamander

Dicamptodon tenebrosus of the Coast Redwood forest

One animal found in the coast redwood forest is the Coastal Giant Salamander, or Pacific Giant Salamander. Their size may be as long as 12 inches (33 cm).

They are not a common sight like how Banana Slugs may be commonly seen while hiking in Redwood National Park or Avenue of the Giants. Like other salamanders, they have 4 toes on the front feet and 5 toes on the back. The tail is 40 percent of the total length. The head, back, and sides are marbled with dark blotches on a light brown or brass colored background. They have a broad head and a fold of skin across the throat called the gular fold. The eyes have a flecked iris and large black pupil. This species is one of few than can vocalize. They may make a sound that some have described as a kind croak or bark. No need to write much more about the description, because they are about the only animal in the Redwood National and State Parks with the appearance seen in the photo below

They have voracious feeding habits, eating insects, slugs, worms, snails and amphibians. Young Larval salamanders eat a variety of aquatic organisms like, mayflies, beetles, worms, snails, tiny fis, and other small amphibians of the same or different species: frog tadpoles and salamander larvae. Predators include fish, garter snakes, river otters, raccoons and other of the same species.

They live in a variety of habitats, especially the forest near cool streams. Mature and old-growth forests with plenty of litter are preferred habitats. They spend the days under logs, rocks, and other debris, or in burrows. Not a common sight out in the open. Larvae are found in cool streams with suitable pools and cover like sand, boulders, logs, and overhangings.

When the young grow to about 1/3 to 1/2 size, they begin a terrestrial phase. There are a few which retain aquatic phase characteristics and remain aquatic throughout most of their lives.


Giant Salamander in the Redwood National Park