Lungless salamander

Lungless salamanders (family Plethodontidae) are distinguished from other families of salamanders by the following traits:

  • No lungs. They conduct respiration through their skin and the tissues lining their mouths.
  • Frequently no aquatic larval stage. In many species eggs are laid on land and young hatch already possessing an adult body form.
  • Naso-labial groove. A slit lined with glands between the nostril and upper lip, used for chemoreception.

Measured in individual numbers, they are very successful tetrapods in areas where they occur. Some places they make up the dominant biomass of vertebrates. Due to their modest size and low metabolism, they are able to feed on prey such as collembola, which is usually too small for other terrestrial vertebrates, which gives them a whole ecological niche for themselves they can specialize in without competition from other groups.


Plethodontidae includes many genera grouped under two subfamilies. Nearly four hundred species of plethodontid salamanders are known, making up the majority of known species . Only two of these species are found outside the Western hemisphere.

The family Plethodontidae consists of 4 subfamilies and about 380 species divided among the following genera:

Subfamily Genus Scientific Name and Author Genus Common name Species
Batrachoseps Slender salamanders
Bolitoglossa Tropical climbing salamanders
Bradytriton Finca Chiblac salamander
Chiropterotriton Splay-foot salamanders
Cryptotriton Hidden salamanders
Dendrotriton Bromeliad salamanders
Nototriton Moss salamanders
Nyctanolis Long-limbed salamanders
Oedipina Worm salamanders
Parvimolge Tropical dwarf salamanders
Pseudoeurycea False brook salamanders
Thorius Minute salamanders
Hemidactylium Four-toed salamander
Aneides Climbing salamanders
Atylodes Sardinian Cave Salamander
Desmognathus Dusky salamanders
Ensatina Ensatinas
Hydromantes Web-toed & European cave sals
Karsenia Korean crevice salamanders
Phaeognathus Red Hills salamanders
Plethodon Slimy & mountain salamanders
Speleomantes Cave Salamanders
Eurycea North American brook salamanders
Gyrinophilus Spring salamanders
Pseudotriton Mud and red salamanders
Stereochilus Many-lined salamanders
Following a major revision in 2006 the genus Haideotriton was found to be a synonym of Eurycea while the genera Ixalotriton and Lineatriton were made synonyms of Pseudoeurycea.


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