Plethodontidae – Lungless salamanders

Largest family of salamanders, 216 of which are Threatened as of 2020. 2 species are extinct (years 1964, 2019)

Unlike most amphibians, they lack lungs, relying instead on their skin and the lining of their mouths to facilitate respiration. This lungless trait underscores their ecological adaptability and sets them apart in the world of amphibians.

They boast slender bodies, extended tails, and adhesive toes equipped with specialized pads, enabling them to scale trees and navigate vertical surfaces effortlessly. This exceptional climbing ability opens up a plethora of ecological niches for them to explore.

Beyond their physical attributes, plethodontid salamanders are renowned for their intricate courtship rituals and complex social behaviors. These fascinating behaviors not only enhance our understanding of their reproductive strategies but also shed light on their intriguing social dynamics.

While many members of this family are small, with a total length of less than 15 cm (6 inches), some exhibit remarkable growth, reaching up to 30 cm (12 inches) in length. This diversity in size reflects their adaptability to various ecosystems, including lush forests, open grasslands, and the tranquil environs of streams.

The ecological value of plethodontid salamanders extends beyond their physical traits and behaviors. As insectivores, they play a crucial role in regulating insect populations, contributing to the balance of local food chains. Furthermore, their presence indicates environmental health, reflecting the conditions of their diverse habitats.