Western Slimy Salamander

Media
Photo of a western slimy salamander
Scientific Name
Plethodon albagula
Family
Plethodontidae (lungless salamanders) in the order Caudata (salamanders)
Description

A black, medium-sized woodland salamander with a long rounded tail and numerous silver flecks irregularly distributed over the head, back, limbs and tail. The chin and belly are dark gray. There are usually 16 grooves along the side. This species secretes a thick, very sticky substance that adheres to skin like glue. It causes dust, dirt or bits of dead leaves to stick to one’s hands and is difficult to remove.

Size
Length: 4¾–6¾ inches.
Where To Find
Western Slimy Salamander Distribution Map
Throughout the southern half of the state except most counties in the Mississippi Lowlands.
They commonly live under rocks or logs in damp ravines and moist, wooded hillsides. During dry summer weather they may retreat underground or burrow into large piles of leaf litter to find a damp place. They venture out of hiding at night or after heavy rains. They have been found in the entrance of Missouri caves.
Small arthropods (such as insects and spiders) and worms.
Common. It is important for landowners and other land managers to grasp the importance of fallen logs on the forest floor: Our state’s three species of woodland salamanders require rotten logs for their survival.
Life Cycle
Eggs are laid in early summer. Females select cool, damp cavities deep in the ground or under rotten logs and attach 10–20 or more eggs to a thin stalk suspended from the ceiling of the cavity. Females remain with the eggs during the incubation period. The eggs probably hatch in late summer or early autumn. There is no aquatic larval stage, and the hatchlings look quite a bit like the adults.
Missouri has 8 species of lungless salamanders, which take in oxygen through their skin and moist membranes of the mouth. Retiring and seldom-seen, they are one more component of the diverse fauna of our state.
Insects often reproduce at astonishing rates, and this and many other insectivorous species naturally control their populations. And despite the sticky mucous that this salamander secretes, it must certainly fall prey to larger predators.
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About Reptiles and Amphibians in Missouri
Missouri’s herptiles comprise 43 amphibians and 75 reptiles. Amphibians, including salamanders, toads, and frogs, are vertebrate animals that spend at least part of their life cycle in water. They usually have moist skin, lack scales or claws, and are ectothermal (cold-blooded), so they do not produce their own body heat the way birds and mammals do. Reptiles, including turtles, lizards, and snakes, are also vertebrates, and most are ectothermal, but unlike amphibians, reptiles have dry skin with scales, the ones with legs have claws, and they do not have to live part of their lives in water.