Ensatina eschscholtzii
Unlike most salamanders, the ensatina's tail has a constriction at its base/Photo Courtesy of Jackson D Shedd

The ensatina was named for its habit of brandishing its tail like a sword.  When threatened, the salamander straightens its legs to their full height, arches its back slightly, and points its tail in the air.  The tail is packed full of poison glands and detaches very easily, allowing the animal to escape while its opponent deals with a writhing, oozing tail.


Ensatina females lay their eggs underground or under forest debris in late spring.  They stay with their eggs until after the eggs hatch, about four months later.  The eggs hatch into tiny replicas of the adults.  The young stay at the nest site until the weather turns wet again with the autumn rains.

Facts About Ensatina

have no lungs, breathes through skin

may drop tail if threatened

lives in forest soil and leaf litter