Learn about the elusive Oregon Slender Salamander, endemic to the West Cascades of northern Oregon
The Oregon slender salamander has a long, thin body with small pairs of arms and legs. It is typically between 3.5 to 4.5 inches in length. Its eyes are considered relatively large when compared to its small head. Dark in color, the adult is often brown with patches of coppery red that form a band along the entire length of its body. Its underside is black with clusters of silvery-blue flecks. In its juvenile form, it can easily be mistaken for a worm at first glance due to its appearance and small size. Unlike some other species of salamanders, the Oregon slender salamander has four toes on its hind feet.
Due to its elusive nature, much of the Oregon slender salamander’s habits remain a mystery. It is endemic to north-central Oregon, specifically the west slopes of Oregon’s Cascade Range. It is generally found in forests where there is an abundance of decaying wood and moisture, preferably beneath a closed canopy. Surprisingly, sightings also have been documented in the suburban landscapes of Southeast Portland and Gresham. In these unexpected habitats, the salamander seeks shelter in dark and damp locations. Its diet consists mostly of insect larvae, spiders, and worms. The female lays between 3 and 11 eggs, which are about 4 millimeters long.
The Oregon slender salamander is listed as a sensitive species in Oregon State and federally listed as a species of concern. Due to its limited geographic range, it is particularly at risk of human-caused disturbances.