California Tiger Salamander

Ambystoma californiense

Summary 2

The California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) is a vulnerable amphibian native to Northern California. Previously considered to be a tiger salamander subspecies, the California tiger salamander was recently designated a separate species again. The California tiger salamander distinct population segment (DPS) in Sonoma County is listed as federally endangered and in the Santa Barbara County) DPS and Central California DPS, they are federally threatened. The Sonoma County and Santa Barbara County DPS's have been split from...

Description 3

The California Tiger Salamander is a stocky salamander with a broad, rounded snout. Its eyes are relatively small but protruding, with black irises. The base dorsal color is black, and the dorsal side is commonly marked with bold patches of lemon-yellow spots that are concentrated along the sides of the animal. The belly is generally gray in color, and may display a few small spots of white or yellow color. Adults generally have 12 costal grooves.

Recent molecular research has supported full species status for A. californiense, in contrast to its previous status as a subspecies of Ambystoma tigrinum (Shaffer and McKnight 1996). Full species status for A. californiense is also supported by its geographical isolation plus differences in coloration and natural history seen in A. californiense, as compared to other members of the A. tigrinum complex(Petranka 1998).

See another account at

Distribution and habitat 4

Distribution is restricted to the Central Valley of California and lower elevations to the west. The range includes areas around Sonoma, Petaluma, and the Colusa-Yolo county line, south to the vernal pools in Tulare County, and amongst the coast ranges south to the ponds and vernal pools in the Santa Ynez Drainage (Santa Barbara County).

The habitat of this salamander is restricted to grassland and low foothills, where the long-lasting vernal pools it uses for breeding exist. Permanent aquatic sites can be used for breeding, but use of such sites is only common in the absence of predatory fish. Dry season habitat sites are within reasonable distance of breeding sites, and generally consist of small mammal burrows as well as man-made enclosures.

Hastings NHR Notes 5

The California Tiger salamander has been documented from Hastings but with vouchers from 1981.

Need to confirm their continued presence with recorded observations.

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) Bill Bouton, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA),
  2. Adapted by Michelle S. Koo from a work by (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA),
  3. (c) AmphibiaWeb © 2000-2011 The Regents of the University of California, some rights reserved (CC BY),
  4. (c) AmphibiaWeb © 2000-2011 The Regents of the University of California, some rights reserved (CC BY),
  5. (c) Michelle S. Koo, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA)

More Info

iNat Map

Iucn status Vulnerable
Taxonomy:family Ambystomatidae