FWS Focus


The Rio Grande cutthroat trout (RGCT) is a subspecies of cutthroat trout, endemic to the Rio Grande, Pecos, and possibly the Canadian River Basins in New Mexico and Colorado. The first specimens that were collected for scientific purposes came from Ute Creek in Costilla County, Colorado. Girard described these fish as Salar virginalis in 1856 (Behnke 1967). Cutthroat trout are distinguished by the red to orange slashes in the throat folds beneath the lower jaw. Rio Grande cutthroat trout have irregular shaped spots that are concentrated behind the dorsal fin (largest fin on the back), smaller less numerous spots located primarily above the lateral line anterior to the dorsal fin, and basibranchial (located on the floor of the gill chamber) teeth that are minute or absent. Rio Grande cutthroat trout are light rose to red-orange on the sides and pink or yellow-orange on the belly.

Scientific Name

Oncorhynchus clarkii virginalis
Common Name
Rio Grande cutthroat trout
FWS Category

Location in Taxonomic Tree

Identification Numbers



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