Somewhere, in the distance, a salamander barked…

Photo Credit: Gary Nafis
Photo Credit: Gary Nafis

Editor’s Note: Regarding the title – Could. Not. Resist. Sorry.

The family Dicamptodon is a sweet little packet of goodness. Commonly, they are known as “giant salamanders” even though they are not, in fact, the biggest salamanders around. I was not consulted in this naming process, so don’t blame me. While containing just a single genus and four species, they are few, but mighty in size, bark and bite. Members of this mainly terrestrial (although they can be paedomorphic) family may grow to be just over a foot long. They are known to be voracious eaters and a bit aggressive. “Aggressive salamander” sounds as oxymoron-ish as jumbo shrimp, christian scientist, or Chief Justice William Rehnquist, but check out this video below and judge for yourself.

These guys even eat small mammals (hey, don’t we all) and make a barking noise that sounds kind of like my stomach growling.

Finally, if you spend too much time on the internet looking up “salamander vocalization” (and oh yes, I do) you will eventually stumble upon some disturbing mormon business about a “talking white salamander”. This has me wondering if maybe Joseph Smith encountered a species of Dicamptodon , but it was “barking” and definitely not talking. Also, the correct translation was most likely “you are crazy and I’m not a spirit”. While salamanders are awesome, they are not supernatural.

To learn more, follow-up with this video from some California Conservation Corps members:

“Meet the…” is a collaboration between The Finch & Pea and Nature Afield to bring Nature’s amazing creatures into your home.

Author: Heidi Kay Smith

Biology PhD student on the cusp of finishing and moving on to a postdoc in the behavioral ecology of amphibians. I blog to share my thoughts, ideas, and general feelings of awe of the natural world.

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