Species: Salvin’s mushroomtongue salamander (Bolitoglossa salvinii)
Status: Endangered (EN)
Interesting Fact: Salvin’s mushroomtongue salamander lives in trees, where it uses its thick, prehensile tail and webbed feet to help it grip onto leaves.
A strikingly coloured amphibian, Salvin’s mushroomtongue salamander belongs to an unusual group of amphibians known as ‘lungless salamanders’. The members of this group lack lungs and instead absorb oxygen through their skin and their mouth lining. Salvin’s mushroomtongue salamander actively climbs around in trees in search of invertebrate prey, which it catches using its remarkable projectile tongue, which can be shot out at great speed. Females of this species lay small clutches of eggs in damp places on land, and the eggs hatch directly into miniature versions of the adults, rather than going through a tadpole stage.
Salvin’s mushroomtongue salamander originally inhabited forests in southern Guatemala and possibly also in El Salvador. However, much of its habitat has been lost and fragmented, mainly due to clearance for agriculture. Salvin’s mushroomtongue salamander is now mostly found in shaded coffee and banana plantations, as well as sugarcane fields, but any clearance of these to create more open, drier habitats would negatively impact upon its populations. As yet, there is no direct evidence that the fungal disease chytridiomycosis is responsible for the declines in this and other Central American salamanders, but it is possible that it has played a role. There are currently no specific conservation measures in place for Salvin’s mushroomtongue salamander, but maintaining moist, shaded habitats will be important to its survival. A number of protected areas have been proposed within its range, which could potentially benefit this unusual amphibian in the future.
Find out more about amphibian conservation at:
- Amphibian Ark: http://www.amphibianark.org/
- IUCN/SSC Amphibian Specialist Group: http://www.amphibians.org
- ARKive’s amphibian conservation page: http://www.arkive.org/amphibian-conservation/
Liz Shaw, ARKive Text Author