Valdina Farms Salamander
Eurycea troglodytes

Description:  a small (less than 3" total length), fully aquatic salamander that possesses external gills throughout its life (the technical term for salamanders that retain gills throughout their lives is "neotenic").  These salamanders may be pale and whitish like the two shown above, or may be yellowish, tan, or brownish olive in coloration.  These different color morphs may exist in the same population, although there is a tendency for them to be more whitish in populations that spend most of their time under ground in caves and crevices at the mouths of springs.  Populations to the east of the Nueces Canyon may transform into terrestrial, gill-less adults, but terrestrial adults are not to be expected in the rather dry habitats of the Nueces Canyon.  They may be found by looking under rocks and gravel in streams, but are most easily found by shining lights into these waters at night.

Habitat:  these salamanders are fully aquatic, and are most abundant in the immediate vicinity of undisturbed springs.  They also occur in spring fed creeks, but are mostly absent from habitats with predatory fish. 

Distribution:  these small salamanders should occur throughout the Nueces Canyon in the immediate vicinity of permanent springs

Abundance:  in undisturbed springs, these salamanders reach very high population densities.  We have personally observed 20-30 salamanders at one spring at night.  Research on related species indicate that populations at a particular spring may number as high as several hundred to a thousand individuals.

Conservation Status:  although some populations of related species are considered threatened (e.g. the San Marcos and Barton Springs Salamanders) there is no cause for concern about this species.

Comments:  The Valdina Farms Salamander, Eurycea troglodytes, probably represents a species complex containing multiple species.  We expect to see changes in the taxonomy of this species within the next few years.