Snout to vent length 6.25 – 17 cm, Adults up to 35 cm total length including the tail. This is the largest salamander in BC (and possibly the southeast). The plump body has a wide, wedge-shaped head and fleshy legs. Skin is smooth, dark brown to dark grey usually with brown or tan marbling on the dorsal area from head to tail and upper parts of the legs. The chin and belly is pale grey or cream, eyes vary in colour, often similar to the marbling colouration. Older adults may lose the marbling on the body. Once in terrestrial form, adults have 12-13 indistinct lateral “costal grooves” (vertical indents that look like ribs). Larvae, which are totally aquatic, can reach 20 cm and start out in a somewhat tadpole-like state with only a tail, small forelimbs and external gills. Larval colour is somewhat a monotone light brown with indistinct mottling and lighter ventral areas than adults. Gills are bushy and reddish-brown. Neotenes (aquatic individuals which retain larval physiology but are capable of breeding) may reach full adult size (35 cm). Under some conditions (possibly due to lowered riparian habitat complexity), neotenes can outnumber terrestrial individuals. *This species is sometime referred to as the Pacific Giant Salamander.
B.C. Conservation Data Centre. [Internet] [Updated December 15 2010]. Conservation Status Report: Dicamptodon tenebrosus. B.C. MoE. - BC Ministry of Environment. 2014.
Develop with Care Factsheet #19 Coastal Giant Salamander. BC MoE region II Surrey. -
CaliforniaHerps.com. 2010. [Internet]. Dicamptodon tenebrosus -
Coastal Giant Salamander. - Cannings, S.G., L.R. Ramsay, D.F. Fraser, and M.A. Fraker. 1999. Rare amphibians, reptiles, and mammals of British Columbia. Wildl. Branch and Resour. Inv. Branch, B.C. Minist. Environ., Lands and Parks, Victoria, BC. 198pp. -
Curtis, Janelle, M.R. and Eric B. Taylor. 2003. [Internet] The genetic structure of coastal giant salamanders (Dicamptodon tenebrosus) in a managed forest. Biological Conservation 115 (2003) 45–54. -
Ferguson, Heather M. 2000. [Internet] Larval colonisation and recruitment in the Pacific giant salamander (Dicamptodon tenebrosus) inBritish Columbia. Can. J. Zool. 78: 1238–1242. -
Germano, J.M. and P.J. Bishop. 2008. [Internet] Suitability of Amphibians and Reptiles for Translocation. Conservation Biology 23: 7-15. -
Hossack, Blake R. et al. 2010. [Internet] Low Prevalence of Chytrid Fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) in Amphibians of U.S. - Headwater Streams. Journal of Herpetology, Vol. 44, No. 2, pp. 253–260. -
Heyer, W.R., et al. 1994. Measuring and Monitoring Biological Diversity. Standard Methods for Amphibians. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington. -
Johnston, Barbara and Leonardo Frid. 2002. [Internet] Clearcut logging restricts the movements of terrestrial Pacific giant salamanders (Dicamptodon tenebrosus Good) Can. J. Zool. 80: 2170–2177. -
Johnston, Barbara E. 2004. [Internet] Accounts and Measures for Managing Identified Wildlife – Accounts V. 2004. Coastal Giant Salamander Dicamptodon tenebrosus.
Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks. 1999. [Internet]. Inventory Methods for Tailed Frogs and Pacific Giant Salamanders (Version 2.0) for Components of British Columbia’s Biodiversity No.39. -
Ovaska, K, S. Lennart, C Engelstoft, L. Matthias, E. Wind and J. MacGarvie. 2004. Best Management Practices for Amphibians and Reptiles in Urban and Rural Environments in British Columbia.
Ministry of Water Land and Air Protection, Ecosystems Standards and Planning, Biodiversity Branch Pacific Giant Salamander Recovery Team. 2010. Recovery strategy for the Pacific Giant Salamander (Dicamptodon tenebrosus) in British Columbia. Prepared for the B.C. Ministry of Environment, Victoria, BC. 42pp. -
Proulx, Gilbert et al. 2003. A Field Guide to Species at Risk in the Coast Forest Region of British Columbia. Published by InternationalForest Products and BC Ministry of Environment. Victoria (BC). -
Richardson, J.S. and W.E. Neill. 1998. [Internet] Headwater amphibians and forestry in British Columbia: Pacific giant salamanders and tailed frogs. Northwest Science 72: 122-123. - Richardson, John S. et al. 2005. [Internet]
Riparian Communities Associated With Pacific Northwest Headwater Streams: Assemblages, Processes, and Uniqueness. Paper No. 04149 of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA).
Original Species Profile prepared by: Pamela Zevit, RPBio with Brent Matsuda, RPBio for the South Coast Conservation Program (SCCP) in partnership with: International Forest Products (Interfor), Capacity Forestry (CapFor). Original funding for this project was made possible through the Sustainable Forestry Initiative(SFI): http://www.sfiprogram.org/
Updated and revised by: Isabelle Houde, RPBio in consultation with the SCCP. Part of the National Conservation Plan, this project was
undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada. Dans le cadre du Plan de Conservation National, ce projet a été réalisé
avec l’appui financier du Gouvernement du Canada. Every effort has been made to ensure content accuracy. Comments or corrections should
be directed to the South Coast Conservation Program: firstname.lastname@example.org. Content updated October 2015.
Image Credits: : Pacific Giant Salamander: Jeffery Marsten Wikipedia, Pacific Giant Salamander larva/neotene: Pierre Fidenci Wikimedia,
Northwestern Salamander: High fin sperm whale Wikipedia. Habitat: Pamela Zevit. Images from “creative commons” sources (e.g. Wikipedia,
Flickr, U.S. Government) can be used without permission and for non-commercial purposes only. All other images have been contributed for
use by the SCCP and its partners/funders only.