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Ca. Giant Salamander

Dicamptodon ensatus


The adult California giant salamander can reach 17–30.5 cm (6.7–12 inches) in total length. Like all salamanders, the California giant salamander has four toes on the front feet and five toes on the back feet. The California giant salamander's tail is approximately 40% of the total length of the salamander and is laterally compressed. The head, back, and sides of the salamander have a marbled or reticulate pattern of dark blotches on a light brown or brassy-colored background. They have a broad head with a shovel-like snout and a fold of skin across the throat called the gular fold. The eyes are medium in size and have a brass-flecked iris and a large black pupil. This species is one of the few salamanders capable of vocalizing.


Occidental, Ca. My tracker buddy spotted this beauty laying completely still on the ground and continued to do so for the entire photo shoot, about 15 mins. He was amazing to look at! I can't remember ever seeing a salamander this big, it blew my mind because i had no idea they got this big in North America. The blade of my knife is 7 inches, so if he was stretched out all the way i think he would be about 9 inches long total. And it's not just the length that's impressive, to me, it's also the girth of the salamander. The tail looks like it got chewed on a little bit. Hopefully I'll see one again :)

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Josh Asel
Josh Asel 7 years ago

Thank you redyellgrn.

redyellgrn99 7 years ago

Very nice.

Josh Asel
Josh Asel 7 years ago

Thanks so much Neil :)

NeilDazet 7 years ago

Nice series. Can't decide which photo I like best. Probably #2 or #3, but all are great, very crisp. :-)

Josh Asel
Josh Asel 7 years ago

Thank you Karen :)

KarenL 7 years ago

Great capture Joshua!

Josh Asel
Josh Asel 7 years ago

Thank you Carol, Fyn, Jason, and Lipase! I know what you guys mean, seeing any kind of newt or salamander at all always gets me stoked! :) my knife was the only thing i had to measure it up to lol. my friend tried to use a tongue-depressor for measurement but i didn't think it would work out so well ;p

Lipase 7 years ago

salamanders and newts always seem so happy and generally awesome to me...!

Jason Alexander
Jason Alexander 7 years ago

Cool salamander!

Fyn  Kynd
Fyn Kynd 7 years ago

Awesome Salamander! Huge! I hope I'll see one of these at some point. I've seen a Spotted before that was about 5 inches.

Carol Snow Milne
Carol Snow Milne 7 years ago

Oh cool! That is really amazingly large. Great spot! Now that's a knife. LOL

Josh Asel
Spotted by
Josh Asel

California, USA

Spotted on Apr 2, 2013
Submitted on Apr 2, 2013

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