Taricha granulosa — Rough-skinned Newt
Some other names for this species:
Rough-skinned Newts are closely related to California Newts, and indeed were once considered the same species. They're brightly colored underneath, but you'd never guess it from above.
Despite its dull appearance from above, I spotted the first newt pictured here just by noticing its shape. The second one was under a log. Both of them strongly preferred plodding away to posing for photographs.
I initially thought these were Red-bellied Newts (Taricha rivularis). Thanks to Jackson Shedd for correcting the identification. The yellow patch in the eye is one piece of evidence confirming that these are actually rough-skinned newts.
The day after a rainy Thanksgiving, the newts were plodding about in great numbers. One of them was plodding just past a huge beautiful psychotropic mushroom Amanita muscaria and I thought it would look nice up on top. I wasn't sure if could get it to stop plodding long enough to pose in the dim forest light, but it was a cooperative sort of newt.
I had a day available to explore somewhere in the general Marin area north of San Francisco and I decided to try to find a Red-bellied Newt (Taricha rivularis), a species that had so far eluded me. I searched the literature to find some likely spots, and off I went. The first newt of the day was this fat fellow, who was lounging in a shallow stream. I was excited to think I had finally found T. rivularis, but I soon realized that this was another yellow-eyed specimen of T. granulosa. Such are the small disappointments of the herping life. Happily, ten minutes later I did find my first T. rivularis nearby.
An iPhone is not the ideal camera to immortalize a newt swimming with the water level several feet below the dock on which one is standing. But hey, at least I didn't drop my phone in the lake, so that's something!
This one had been underneath the old wooden post upon which it is pictured. It was not thrilled about being uncovered, and kept plodding along in the way that only newts can plod. I didn't want to bother it too much so I settled for this recognizable but uninteresting photo before letting it plod back to its comfort zone underneath the post.
- Behler, J. L., King, F. W. 1979. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles & Amphibians
- Corkran, C. C., Thoms, C. R. 1996. Amphibians of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia: A Field Identification Guide
- Crother, B. I. (ed.) 2012. Scientific and Standard English Names of Amphibians and Reptiles of North America North of Mexico, with Comments Regarding Confidence in Our Understanding. SSAR Herpetological Circular 39:1-92.
- Petranka, J. W. 1998. Salamanders of the United States and Canada
- Stebbins, R. C. 2003. Peterson Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians, Third Edition