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Yellow-Eyed Ensatina Salamander
(Monterey Subspecies)
Salamanders sometimes make their
homes in the cavities of rotting logs.
Not a newt - although at first glance, I made the mistake myself. But upon closer examination, I noticed how different its skin pattern was and how delicate its legs were in contrast to a newt.
I also noticed its tail - shorter than a newt and oddly constricted near its base. And when I picked it up, I got the shock of my life - it emitted a loud squeak!
The Ensatina is a lungless salamander.
It respires completely through its skin.
Without lungs, how was it able to emit the squeak?
The sound was like the sudden squish of water from a boot or rubber glove.
If the sound was meant to warn me off, it worked. I didn't pick it up again.
t is thought that this subspecies coloration evolved to mimic the poisonous
California Newt as a form of protection from its enemies.
How was it able squeak?  According to David B. Wake of UC Berkeley:
"Arboreal salamanders, Aneides lugubris, audibly squeak when they are mishandled, and Ensatina should be able to use the same mechanism. As plethodontids they are lungless and lack a larynx, but they have sphincter-like muscles around the external nares and a pumping motion that moves air in an out of the buccal cavity.   ...by closing down the nares and drawing up the floor of the buccal cavity they should be able to produce a sound of some sort..."
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