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Batrachoseps nigriventris - Black-bellied Slender Salamander

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Black-bellied Slender Salamander range mapRange in California: Red

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Range Map of all Slender Salamanders in California



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Black-bellied Slender Salamander Black-bellied Slender Salamander Black-bellied Slender Salamander
Adult, San Luis Obispo County Adult, San Luis Obispo County Adult, San Luis Obispo County
Black-bellied Slender Salamander Black-bellied Slender Salamander Black-bellied Slender Salamander
Adult, San Luis Obispo County Adult and Juvenile,
Santa Barbara County
Underside of adult ,
San Luis Obispo County
Black-bellied Slender Salamander Black-bellied Slender Salamander Black-bellied Slender Salamanders
Sub-adult, 1400 ft., San Gabriel Mountains, Los Angeles County Adults, 3,800 ft. San Gabriel Mountains, Los Angeles County
Black-bellied Slender Salamander Black-bellied Slender Salamander  
Adult, 3,000 ft. San Gabriel Mountains, Los Angeles County

 
Santa Cruz Island Population
Black-bellied Slender Salamander Black-bellied Slender Salamander Black-bellied Slender Salamander
Adult, Santa Cruz Island,
Santa Barbara County

Adult, Santa Cruz Island, Santa Barbara County
Comparisons With Similar Sympatric Slender Salamander Species
Black-bellied Slender Salamander comparison Black-bellied Slender Salamander comparison Black-bellied Slender Salamander comparison
Batrachoseps major major, Garden Slender Salamander (bottom) and B. nigriventris (top). Note the larger body and legs of B. m. major. B. nigriventris is black underneath, while B. m. major is light gray. Batrachoseps incognitus, the San Simeon Slender Salamander (top) occurs with B. nigriventris (bottom) in northern San Luis Obispo County. B. incognitus has slightly larger legs and toes and neck. The ranges of Batrachoseps gavilanensis, Gabilan Mountains Slender Salamander, and B. nigriventris overlap slightly.
Black-bellied Slender Salamander comparison Black-bellied Slender Salamander comparison  
B. nigriventris (left) occurs along with Batrachoseps gabrieli (right) at some locations in Los Angeles County. Note the larger more robust limbs and body of B. gabrieli. These two were found next to each other. © William Flaxington Batrachoseps minor, the Lesser Slender Salamander, shown to the left, occurs entirely within the range of B. nigriventris. It is shown here with a small adult specimen of B. nigriventris which was found outside of the range of B. minor. B. minor has distinctly larger hands and feet.

 
Habitat
Black-bellied Slender Salamander Habitat Black-bellied Slender Salamander Habitat Black-bellied Slender Salamander Habitat
Habitat, San Luis Obispo County Habitat, San Luis Obispo County Habitat, San Luis Obispo County
Black-bellied Slender Salamander Habitat Black-bellied Slender Salamander Habitat Black-bellied Slender Salamander Habitat
Habitat, 3,800 ft., San Gabriel Mountains, Los Angeles County Habitat, Santa Cruz Island Habitat, San Gabriel Mountains,
Los Angeles County
Black-bellied Slender Salamander Habitat Black-bellied Slender Salamander Habitat  
Habitat, 3,800 ft., San Gabriel Mountains, Los Angeles County

Habitat, 1400 ft., San Gabriel Mountains, Los Angeles County  
Short Video
  Black-bellied Slender Salamander  
  Black-bellied Slender Salamanders squirming around in Santa Barbara County  
Description

Size
Adults are 1 1/4 - 1 7/8 inches long (3.2 - 4.7 cm) from snout to vent.
Appearance
A small slim salamander with 18 - 21 costal grooves. Short limbs, a narrow head, long slender body, very long tail, and conspicuous costal and caudal grooves give this species the worm-like appearance typical of most Slender Salamanders. There are four toes on the front and hind feet, which is also typical of Slender Salamanders. (Other California salamanders have five toes on the hind feet.) The tail may be up to twice the body length on mainland adults, but only up to the body length on adults from Santa Cruz Island.

Color above is dark brown or blackish with a reddish, brown, or tan dorsal stripe. The venter is dark with fine white speckling.
Behavior and Natural History
A member of family Plethodontidae, the Plethodontid or Lungless Salamanders.
Lungless Salamanders breathe through their skin which requires them to live in damp environments on land and to move about on the ground only during times of high humidity. (In California, they do not inhabit streams or bodies of water, but they are capable of surviving for some time if they fall into water.)
Lungless salamanders are distinguished by their naso-labial grooves, which are vertical slits between the nostrils and upper lip that are lined with glands used in chemoreception. All California Lungless Salamanders lay eggs in moist places on land. The young hatch from the egg directly into a tiny terrestrial salamander with the same body form as an adult. (They do not hatch in the water and begin their lives as tiny swimming larvae breathing through gills, as occurs with other types of salamanders.)Active on rainy or wet nights when temperatures are moderate, fall through spring. Retreats underground when the soil dries or when air temperature drops to near freezing. Found under rocks, logs, bark, and other debris.

Typical of most Slender Salamanders, when disturbed, this salamander may coil up and remain still, relying on cryptic coloring to avoid detection. It might also uncoil quickly and spring away, repeatedly bouncing over the ground, or drop its tail to distract a predator. The tail is easily broken off, but it can be regenerated.

Feeding behavior is not well known, but other Batrachoseps species are sit-and-wait predators that use a projectile tongue to catch prey.
Diet
Eats a variety of small invertebrates.
Reproduction and Young
Little is known about the Breeding behavior and egg-laying habits of this species.
Reproduction is terrestrial. Slender Salamanders typically lay eggs in moist places on land. In southern California, B. nigriventris lays eggs in the winter which hatch in winter and early spring. Eggs have been found in early December in the Coast Range. Young hatch fully formed.
Range
Endemic to California. Found in mountains and valleys of the coast range from southern Monterey County south to the Santa Ana Mountains, including the Tehachapi, Santa Monica and San Gabriel Mountains east to Cajon Pass.  Also found on Santa Cruz Island.

Sympatric with B. gabrieli in the San Gabriel mountains, with B. minor, B. gavilanensis and B. incognitus in the Coast Range, with B. m. major in Los Angeles and Orange counties, with B. stebbinsi in the Tehachapi mountains, and with B. pacificus on Santa Cruz Island.
Habitat
Inhabits mostly oak woodlands but also found in chaparral, grasslands, streamsides, and oak and pine forests. Found under rocks, logs, bark, and other debris in moist areas. On Santa Cruz Island, occurs in streamside Eucalyptus forest, under coastal driftwood, in oak woodland, and in open grassland.
South of the Tehachapi Mountains, this species is found mostly in moist mountain and foothills canyons.
From sea level to around 8,200 ft. (2,500 m.)
Taxonomic Notes
Animals from the western slope of the central and southern Sierra Nevada mountains previously identified as B. nigriventris,
were re-described as B. gregarius in 1998.
In 2000, Wake and Jockusch determined that B. nigriventris consists of three distinct lineages which include those found from Monterey County south to the Tehachapi Mountains, those found south of the Tehachap Mountains from Ventura and Los Angeles south to the Santa Ana Mountains and east to Cajon Pass, and those found on Santa Cruz Island.

Here's a Diagram of the Batrachoseps Complex showing the relationships between species.
Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
None.
Taxonomy
Family Plethodontidae Lungless Salamanders
Genus Batrachoseps Slender Salamanders
Species


nigriventris Black-bellied Slender Salamander
Original Description
Cope, 1869 - Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, Vol. 21, p. 98

from Original Description Citations for the Reptiles and Amphibians of North America © Ellin Beltz

Meaning of the Scientific Name
Batrachoseps: Greek - amphibian, frog lizard - describes lizard-like appearance.
nigriventris: Latin - black ventris of the belly, referring to the dark venter.

from Scientific and Common Names of the Reptiles and Amphibians of North America - Explained © Ellin Beltz

Alternate Names
Blackbelly Slender Salamander

Similar Neighboring Salamanders
Batrachoseps incognitus
Batrachoseps minor
Batrachoseps gavilanensis
Batrachoseps gabrieli
Batrachoseps major major

More Information and References
Natureserve Explorer

California Dept. of Fish and Game

AmphibiaWeb

Stebbins, Robert C., and McGinnis, Samuel M.  Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of California: Revised Edition (California Natural History Guides) University of California Press, 2012.

Stebbins, Robert C. California Amphibians and Reptiles. The University of California Press, 1972.

Stebbins, Robert C. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. 3rd Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003.

Behler, John L., and F. Wayne King. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. Alfred A. Knopf, 1992.

Powell, Robert., Joseph T. Collins, and Errol D. Hooper Jr. A Key to Amphibians and Reptiles of the Continental United States and Canada. The University Press of Kansas, 1998.

Bartlett, R. D. & Patricia P. Bartlett. Guide and Reference to the Amphibians of Western North America (North of Mexico) and Hawaii. University Press of Florida, 2009.

Bishop, Sherman C. Handbook of Salamanders. Cornell University Press, 1943.

Lannoo, Michael (Editor). Amphibian Declines: The Conservation Status of United States Species. University of California Press, June 2005.

Petranka, James W. Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution, 1998.



Conservation Status

The following status listings come from the Special Animals List and the Endangered and Threatened Animals List which are published by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.


This salamander is not included on the Special Animals List, meaning there are no significant conservation concerns for it in California according to the California Department of Fish and Game.
Organization
Status Listing
U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) None
California Endangered Species Act (CESA) None
California Department of Fish and Wildlife None
Bureau of Land Management None
USDA Forest Service None
 

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