The Balton Springs Salamander

an endangered animal


A slender, long-limbed salamander, about 2.5 inches in total length, with a small narrow head and greatly reduced eyes. They vary in color, and can be dark gray, gray, purplishgray, gray-brown, or yellowish-brown. Most individuals have a dark "salt-and-pepper" mottling on their back. These salamanders have external gills which are red in color. The Barton Springs Salamander is entirely aquatic throughout its life.

life history

Although relatively little is known about the biology of the Barton Springs Salamander, new information is rapidly becoming available. Recently hatched young have been found in November, March, and April, and females with well-developed eggs have been found in September through January. They are known to eat amphipods and other small, aquatic animals. Captive specimens feed on amphipods, earthworms, white worms, and brine shrimp

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The Barton Springs Salamander occurs only at the spring outflows of Barton Springs. These are often found under rocks or in gravel in water several inches to 15 feet deep. They can also be found hiding in aquatic plants and algae. They rely on a clear, clean, continuous flow of spring water. The Barton Springs Salamander is clearly capable of living underground, but also inhabits surface environments. Although not known for certain, some scientists believe the salamander is primarily a surface-dweller that is adapted for life underground when surface conditions become unsuitable. salamanders

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Reasons for Endangerment

Because the Barton Springs Salamander relies on the clear, pure water of the Barton Springs Aquifer, protection of the quality and quantity of water flowing from Barton Springs is essential for its survival. Threats to water quality such as urban runoff, increased development in the Barton Creek watershed, and the risks of a toxic chemical spill or sewer line breakage in the urban zone surrounding Barton Springs remain a concern. Also of concern are reduced groundwater supplies due to increased urban water use.

How can we help?

Keeping our springs, creeks and underground water clean benefits the people and wildlife of the Austin area. Lawn and agricultural chemicals and pesticides should be used sparingly and only according to label directions, particularly within the recharge zone of the aquifer. Carefully follow recommended procedures for disposing of containers and rinse water. Take used motor oil to auto maintenance businesses that can use or dispose of it properly. Be careful with household chemicals and dispose of the containers according to label directions. The City of Austin has a designated drop off location for hazardous household material.