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A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California


Kings River Slender Salamander - Batrachoseps regius

Jockusch, Wake & Yanev, 1998
Click on a picture for a larger view



Kings River Slender Salamander range map
Range in California
: Red

Range Map of all Slender Salamanders in California



observation link





Kings River Slender Salamander Kings River Slender Salamander Kings River Slender Salamander
Adult, Fresno County Adult, Fresno County
Kings River Slender Salamander Kings River Slender Salamander Kings River Slender Salamander
Adult, Fresno County Adult, Fresno County Adult, Fresno County
     
Comparisons with similar sympatric and allopatric slender salamanders.
Kings River Slender Salamander comparison Kings River Slender Salamander comparison Kings River Slender Salamander comparison
B. kawia / B. regius

No noticeable size differences in body, feet, or toes.
B. diabolicus / B. regius

No noticeable size differences in body, feet, or toes.
B. gregarius / B. regius

B. gregarius has a slimmer body with smaller feet and toes.
     
Habitat
Kings River Slender Salamander Habitat Kings River Slender Salamander Habitat Kings River Slender Salamander Habitat
Habitat, 1,100 ft., Fresno County Habitat, 1,100 ft., Fresno County Habitat, Kings River, Fresno County
Kings River Slender Salamander Habitat Kings River Slender Salamander Habitat  
Habitat, Kings River, Fresno County Habitat, Kings River, Fresno County
 
     
Short Video
  Kings River Slender Salamander  
  A Kings River slender salamander found under a rock sits still then races into a hole with the typical frantic springing back and forth movement of a slender salamander in a hurry.  
   
Description
 
Size
Adults are 1 1/4 - 1 3/8 inches long (3.2 - 3.5 cm) from snout to vent.

Appearance
A small slim salamander with 18-19 costal grooves.
Short limbs, a long slender body with a narrow head and a long tail, and conspicuous costal and caudal grooves give this species the worm-like appearance typical of most Slender Salamanders.
The head is relatively broad for a slender salamander with a distinct neck.
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.)
Color and Pattern
Color is blackish above with little pattern. A dorsal stripe is usually present, but it may be so close to the dorsal coloring that it is not apparent. Sometimes the stripe is broad and light brown to tan. The venter is a gray that is much lighter than other coloring. Many faded white spots on the back and sides.

Comparison with Sympatric Slender Salamanders
Occurs in sympatry in some locations with B. gregarius.
B. gregarius has a narrower head and shorter limbs.

Life History and Behavior

A member of family Plethodontidae, the Plethodontid or Lungless Salamanders.

Plethodontid salamanders do not breathe through lungs. They conduct respiration through their skin and their mouth tissues, which requires them to live in damp environments on land and to move about on the ground only during times of high humidity. (Plethodontid salamanders native to California do not inhabit streams or bodies of water but they are capable of surviving for some time if they fall into water.)

Plethodontid salamanders are also distinguished by their naso-labial grooves, which are vertical slits between the nostrils and upper lip that are lined with glands associated with chemoreception.

All Plethodontid Salamanders native to California lay eggs in moist places on land.
The young develop in the egg and hatch 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 like some other types of salamanders.)

Activity
Little is known about this species.
Most Slender Salamander species are active on rainy or wet nights when temperatures are moderate, fall through spring, retreating underground when the soil dries or when air temperature drops to near freezing.
At higher elevations, activity may be restricted to spring and early summer and early fall.
Found under rocks, logs, bark, and other debris.
Defense
Slender salamanders use several defense tactics, including:
- Coiling and remaining still, relying on cryptic coloring to avoid detection.
- Uncoiling quickly and springing away repeatedly bouncing over the ground, then remaining still again to avoid detection.
- Detaching the tail, which wriggles on the ground to distract a predator from the salamander long enough for it to escape. 
(After its tail is detached or severed, the salamander will grow a new tail.)
Diet and Feeding
Most likely eats a variety of small invertebrates.
Feeding behavior is not well known, but other Batrachoseps species are sit-and-wait predators that use a projectile tongue to catch prey.
Breeding
Little is known about the breeding behavior of this species.
Reproduction is terrestrial.
Breeding and egg-laying probably occurs during the rainy period from November to January.
Eggs
All species of Slender Salamanders lay eggs, typically in moist places on land.
Young
Young develop completely in the egg and hatch fully formed.

Habitat
Inhabits shaded areas of mixed chaparral, oak, and pines. Salamanders have been found in talus, under rocks, under downed logs, and in leaf litter.

Geographical Range
Endemic to California. Found on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada in Fresno County on the south and east sides of the North Fork of the the Kings River, and from Summit Meadow in the drainage of the South Fork of the Kings River.
Also found on the middle fork of the Kaweah River drainage in Tulare County.
Elevational Range
At elevations of 1,100 ft.- 8,100 ft. (335 - 2,470 m).

Notes on Taxonomy
Prior to its description in 1998, B. regius was identified as B. relictus. B. relictus was partitioned into four species -
B. diabolicus
,
B. regius,
B. kawia
and
B. relictus.

Here's a Diagram of the Batrachoseps Complex showing the relationships between species.


Alternate and Previous Names (Synonyms)

Batrachoseps regius - Kings River Slender Salamander (Jockusch, Wake, Yanev 1998, Stebbins 2003, 2012)
Batrachoseps pacificus - Pacific Slender Salamander (Stebbins 1985)
Batrachoseps attenuatus - California Slender Salamander (Stebbins 1954, 1966)
Batrachoseps attenuatus attenuatus - Worm-salamander (Bishop 1943)
Batrachoseps attenuatus - Slender Salamander (Storer 1925)
Batrachoseps nigriventris (Cope 1869)
Batrachoseps attenuatus (Cooper 1868)
Batrachoseps attenuata (Baird 1850)
Salamandrina attenuata (Eschscholtz 1833)

Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
Listed as vulnerable or imperiled, probably due to it's limited habitat at high altitudes where amphibians are generally imperiled.
Taxonomy
Family Plethodontidae Lungless Salamanders Gray, 1850
Genus Batrachoseps Slender Salamanders Bonaparte, 1841
Species

regius Kings River Slender Salamander Jockusch, Wake & Yanev, 1998
Original Description
Jockusch, E. L., D. B. Wake, and K. P. Yanev. "New species of slender salamanders, Batrachoseps
(Amphibia: Plethodontidae), from the Sierra Nevada of California." Contributions in Science, Natural History
Museum of Los Angeles County, #472 1998.

Meaning of the Scientific Name
Batrachoseps: Greek - amphibian, frog lizard - describes lizard-like appearance.
regius: Latin - king, in reference to the region of the Kings River, the type locality.

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

Similar Neighboring Salamanders
B. gregarius
B. relictus
B. kawia

More Information and References
California Department of Fish and Wildlife

AmphibiaWeb

Jockusch, E. L., D. B. Wake, and K. P. Yanev. "New species of slender salamanders, Batrachoseps (Amphibia: Plethodontidae), from the Sierra Nevada of California." Contributions in Science, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, #472 1998.

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 are copied from the 2017 Special Animals List and the 2017 Endangered and Threatened Animals List which are published by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

If no status is listed here, the animal is not included on either CDFW list. This most likely indicates that there are no serious conservation concerns for the animal. To find out more about an animal's status, you can go to the NatureServe and IUCN websites to check their rankings.

Check here to see the most current complete lists.



Organization
Status Listing
NatureServe Global Ranking G2 Imperiled - At high risk of extinctiion due to very restricted range, very few populations (often 20 or fewer), steep declines, or other factors.
NatureServe State Ranking S2S3 Imperiled - Vulnerable
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 S Sensitive
IUCN VU Vulnerable
 

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