Lungless Salamanders: Plethodontidae
Talamancan Web-footed Salamander (bolitoglossa Pesrubra): Species Accounts
Physical characteristics: Talamancan (tah-lah-MAHNG-kahn) web-footed salamanders are stocky salamanders that reach a length of about 4 inches (11 centimeters) from tip of snout to tip of tail. The tail is about half of the total length. The toes are webbed, meaning there is skin between them, although the tips of the toes stick out beyond the webbing. Most of these salamanders are dark brown with a gray or black blotched or marbled pattern, but some of them are solid brown. The belly is dark gray but is lighter than the back. The throat is much lighter than the back and often has a slight yellow color. The legs are usually dark red or reddish orange.
Geographic range: Talamancan web-footed salamanders live in the Cordillera de Talamanca in central and eastern Costa Rica, generally at heights of 7,500 feet (2,300 meters) above sea level.
Habitat: Talamancan web-footed salamanders live under the bark of logs and under leaf litter in oak forests, but they also have survived in many areas where habitats have been destroyed. Large numbers of these salamanders have been found in local rubbish heaps. Talamancan web-footed salamanders also live in plants that grow in trees, in moss mats on trees, and by the sides of roads. These salamanders once were common at very high elevations, about 10,000 feet (3,050 meters), even in completely open areas, where they were found under rocks, slabs of concrete, and other objects, but in more recent years few have been found.
Diet: Talamancan web-footed salamanders eat small insects, which they catch with a very fast tongue that they flick with great accuracy.
Behavior and reproduction: Talamancan web-footed salamanders hunt and mate at night. Other than that, scientists know little about their behavior. When these salamanders hatch, they look like small adults. They do not hatch as larvae that have to change form before becoming adults. The females lay eggs all year in clusters of thirteen to thirty-eight eggs. The eggs are large and take a very long time to develop, partly because of the cool temperature of their mountain habitat. Females guard the eggs until they hatch.
Talamancan web-footed salamanders and people: Talamancan web-footed salamanders are the best known of the many tropical salamanders because they have been observed by generations of students in classes organized by the Organization for Tropical Studies, a group of scientists from all over the world that has three research stations in Costa Rica. These salamanders once were thought to be extremely tolerant of human activities and thrived even along heavily used roads, but they have disappeared from much of their range. Talamancan web-footed salamanders are still found in deep forests.
Conservation status: The IUCN lists Talamancan web-footed salamanders as Endangered, or facing very high risk of extinction in the wild. ∎
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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