Peaks of otter salamander

Named after the area in which they are most heavily populated, Peaks of Otter, in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia

Lusanders

A fascinating and diminutive amphibian that occupies a particular and restricted habitat within the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. These remarkable salamanders are characterized by their small and slender body, roughly the thickness of a person’s pinky finger, which adds to their unique charm.

The Peaks of otter salamander range is incredibly limited, spanning only 116 square kilometers (45 square miles) within the Blue Ridge Mountains. This confined distribution occurs at an elevation of approximately 1200 meters (4,000 feet), making them highly specialized inhabitants of this particular geographic region.

Despite their size and limited range, Peaks of otter salamanders have developed intriguing foraging habits. While primarily terrestrial, they occasionally climb trees and actively forage for a diverse array of invertebrates. Their diet consists of insects and other small invertebrates in the moist and vegetated forest areas that comprise their habitat. These salamanders play a vital role in controlling insect populations within their ecosystem.

Their preferred habitat includes wet and vegetated forest areas where they seek refuge beneath logs, rocks, and leaf litter during the day. These hidden retreats protect them from potential predators and help them maintain their moisture balance in the forest environment.

Despite their ability to adapt to their specific habitat, the Peaks of Otter Salamander faces conservation challenges due to its limited geographic range. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has designated it “Vulnerable.” This status highlights the importance of carefully monitoring their populations and taking proactive conservation measures to protect their habitat and ensure survival.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
United States
VU
2004

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No