Batrachoseps nigriventris Black-bellied Slender Salamander
Prefumo Canyon Road, San Luis Obispo County, CaliforniaFebruary 24, 2002
Black-bellied Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps nigriventris)
My wife and I took the scenic See Canyon Road/Prefumo Canyon Road between Avila Beach and Los Osos Valley because I wanted to find one of these salamanders to photograph for my site, and I thought that would be a likely area. Not only did I find a pair of them under the first log that I looked under, but we also drove parallel to a running coyote for a good distance.

I don't believe these salamanders are doing anything naughty; I think they were just conveniently piled up in the same spot under the log. But only their mothers know for sure.

San Simeon State Park, San Luis Obispo County, CaliforniaNovember 20, 2004
Black-bellied Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps nigriventris) Black-bellied Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps nigriventris)
When I found this little guy in San Simeon State Park, I at first thought "A slender salamander, in San Simeon -- obviously this must be the rarely seen San Simeon Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps incognitus)". Ah, but the San Simeon Slender Salamander did not get to be rarely seen by hanging out in places so obvious. According to the generally reliable AmphibiaWeb it has only been recorded from private land, so the chances that the one slender salamander I happened to run across in the public lands of San Simeon State Park was the elusive San Simeon Slender Salamander are, sadly, low.

Of course, a true salamander expert could tell at a glance whether this was a Black-bellied Slender Salamander or a San Simeon Slender Salamander. Well, with a glance at their DNA, anyway. There are a number of extremely subtle physical differences listed in the references, but the few photographs I've seen of B. incognitus look pretty much exactly the same as the larger number of photographs I've seen of B. nigriventris.

Maybe I am the proud discoverer of the first B. incognitus on public land? It's not out of the question, but I doubt it. If you can look at these photographs and tell me how you know which species it is, I'd love to hear from you.

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