Ensatina eschscholtzii (commonly known by its genus name, Ensatina) is a species of salamander with a range stretching from British Columbia, through Washington, Oregon, across California (where all seven subspecies variations are located), all the way down to Baja California in Mexico.

The Ensatina subspecies E. e. eschscholtzii, or Monterey Ensatina, can be found in Santa Cruz, Monterey, and the California coastal mountains. They reach a total length of three to five inches, and can be identified primarily by the structure of the tail, and how it is narrower at the base. This salamander is the only type that has this tail structure and five toes on the back feet.

Males often have longer tails than the females, and many of the salamanders have lighter colored limbs in comparison to the rest of the body. The salamanders lay their eggs underground, often in threes, which then hatch directly into salamanders, skipping the usual aquatic phase.

The ensatina can usually be found under logs, brush, by or in streams and lakes, and in other moist places. Because they breathe through their pores, distress in the animal can be caused by improper handling by human hands.

The Ensatina salamander has been described as a ring species in the mountains surrounding the Californian Central Valley.


  • Yellow Blotched Ensatina — E. e. croceater (Cope, 1868)
  • Monterey Ensatina — E. e. eschscholtzii Gray, 1850
  • Large Blotched Ensatina — E. e. klauberi Dunn, 1929
  • Oregon Ensatina — E. e. oregonensis (Girard, 1856)
  • Painted Ensatina — E. e. picta Wood, 1940
  • Sierra Nevada Ensatina — E. e. platensis (Jiménez de la Espada, 1875)
  • Yellow Eyed Ensatina — E. e. xanthoptica Stebbins, 1949



  • “Ensatina Page”, Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, 8711 37th St. SE, Jamestown, ND 58401 USA, Viewed April 24, 2005, Updated last: November 12, 2004,
  • The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Life (2004) ISBN 0-618-00583-8, Ring Species (The Salamander's Tale)

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