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Lungless Salamanders: Plethodontidae


Lungless salamanders eat small crustaceans and insects but sometimes eat worms. Larger species sometimes eat smaller species. Lungless salamanders capture prey with an explosive flicking of their tongue. Crustaceans (krus-TAY-shuns), such as crayfish, are water-dwelling animals that have jointed legs and a hard shell but no backbone.


Lunglessness is thought to have evolved as an adaptation for life in flowing water. Larvae are small, and lungs would tend to act as air sacs that might make the salamander float in the water. This would dislodge them from their food source and threaten their survival. Water in a stream is constantly being mixed with air, and salamanders can breathe through their skin, so there is little natural selection for keeping lungs.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceAmphibiansLungless Salamanders: Plethodontidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Dusky Salamander (desmognathus Fuscus): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, LUNGLESS SALAMANDERS AND PEOPLE