California Tiger Salamander

By Garik Iosilevsky, Intern

Have you ever seen an animal smile? The California Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma Californiense) is always smiling. This Salamander is glossy black with yellowish spots and stripes on its back and tail, which is why it has the word Tiger in its name. The yellow on its body even outlines its mouth in a way that it makes it appear that the animal is smiling. This beautiful creature lives in annual grasslands open woodlands, and low foothills with pools or ponds for breeding. It eats things such as insects, algae, mosquito larvae, and tadpoles. The adult males can grow to be about 8 inches long, where the females can grow to be about 7 inches long. It has a long, stocky body, a rounded snout, and eyes that stick out a little. This species is truly a sight to see, and if you ever spot one you should consider yourself lucky.

Although this salamander likes to put on a nice smile for you, on the inside it is really not too happy with the humans.  This species of salamander is an endangered species, which means that its population has become very small, and now people have to do what they can to protect it. In the Sonoma area and the Santa Barbara area, the population of California Tiger Salamanders has decreased very rapidly in the past years. The human population has taken over, and the development of buildings, homes, and other structures has severely threatened the population of California Tiger Salamanders. Thanks to the efforts of certain environmentalist groups, the Sonoma and Santa Barbara populations have now been federally listed as endangered. The central valley population has also decreased but it has not yet reached federally endangered status.

As humans, we must do all that we can to protect this beautiful species. It has put on such a happy face for us all these years, the least that we can do is make it happy and protect its species from becoming extinct.