Meet the sexually empowered female Texas Blind Salamander

Courtship and sperm transfer in pygmy salamanders Desmognathus wrighti. From
Courtship and sperm transfer in pygmy salamanders, Desmognathus wrighti. From

The Texas Blind Salamander (Eurycea rathbuni) is in the Plethodontidae family, also known as lungless salamanders. There are over 400 species of plethodontids making them the most speciose family of salamanders. These salamanders have elaborate and stereotyped courtship rituals. Research has suggested that in general, the male initiates the mating ritual in salamanders. While research and data are sparse for Texas Blind Salamander, it has been reported in captivity that the female actually initiates the courtship behavior.

The female has been reported to rub her nose on the dorsum and side of the male near the cloacal region. Next, the female was observed to rub her cloacal region against the rocks on the bottom of the tank nearby the male. The nearby male began to show interest at this point and courtship ensued. The courtship sequence proceeded with the male depositing a spermatophore, leading the female, and finally the female’s cloaca aligned over the spermatophore to pick it up.

This courtship behavior account comes from a lovely paper in 1988 by Bechler in The Southwestern Naturalist.

Learn more about Plethodontidae here on the Amphibiaweb page.

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

Meet the Texas Blind Salamander

TX Blind Salamander picture 1The Texas Blind Salamander (Eurycea rathbuni) is a cave salamander that has adapted to life living in the dark. With extremely underdeveloped eyes, unpigmented skin, and the retention of its juvenile aquatic form, this salamander is perfectly suited to live in the underground cave streams. Found only in caves around San Marcos, Texas these salamanders are actually considered endangered on the State level. Because they live only in specific areas and rely on the Edwards aquifer, the Texas blind salamander is extremely susceptible to changes in water quality. Their size reaches between 3 and 5 inches and they eat a diet of most aquatic invertebrates. Continue reading “Meet the Texas Blind Salamander”

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