Rhyacotritonidae – Torrent salamanders

Endemic to the North-west US; until 1992 were classified in family Ambystomatidae

In the western United States and Canada, you can find a small group of salamanders known as torrent salamanders. They’re specially built for life in fast-flowing streams and rivers, with streamlined bodies and strong hind legs that help them swim efficiently. These salamanders are generally on the small side, typically less than 15 cm long, although some can reach up to 20 cm (8 inches).

Their unique appearance makes them stand out: they have broad heads, small eyes, and short, flattened tails. As carnivores, they mainly eat insects, worms, and other small invertebrates, playing a crucial role in controlling insect populations in their habitats. You can find them in various watery environments, such as streams, creeks, and waterfalls.

Despite their importance, not much is known about torrent salamanders. They’re not widely studied, which adds an air of mystery to their lives and behaviors. Unfortunately, some species within this group face threats to their survival, including habitat destruction, pollution, and other human activities.