Dennis Deck.

Roughskin Newt.

Little information is available about salamanders in the traditional tracking guides. James Halfpenny's Scats and Tracks of the Pacific Northwest (Falcon Guide series) includes the Tiger Salamander but that is about it. It is necessary to turn to specialized guides for information.

For the Pacific Northwest, try the excellent field identification guide Amphibians of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, by Corkran and Thoms (1996). This guide offers extensive information about range, habitat, and even toe pattern. There are also a couple regional photo guides on the Internet worth investigating such as one by the "Salamander Wrangler".

Salamanders occur throughout the region, including the arid east side of the Cascades, and frequent fast flowing streams as well as quiet water habitats. Some characteristics to look for are tail drag, often oscillating back and forth, and an ambling diagonal stride (front foot registers ahead of hind foot).

So far I have only encountered one set of tracks.


I discovered this set of tracks along the East Fork of the Hood River at about the 3,500 foot level of Mt Hood near Portland, Oregon. As the water levels dropped in mid summer for this glacial stream, fine silt was collected in a few places. Frogs tracks were also found nearby and worm trails criss-cross the area.

An ambling stride, tail drag with slight oscillation, and 4F5H toe pattern seem consistent with salamander. Although the area (high gradient glacial stream) did not match my preconception about salamander habitat, Corkran and Thoms suggest several possible species consistent with the size, habitat, and range including Cope's Giant Salamander and Pacific Giant Salamander. According to John , a local specialist, a large specimen of the Northwestern Salamander is the most likely candidate.

Naturalist Steve Engel made this cast of a roughskin newt.

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