Texas Blind Salamander

 

Scientific Name: Eurycea rathbuni

Texas Blind Salamander

Description: The Texas blind salamander is highly adapted for life in an aquatic, underground environment. Since it lives it total darkness, it has no need for vision, and its eyes are reduced to two black spots. It lacks pigment and appears a translucent white color. The head is wide and flattened. Bright red gills protrude from the throat area and are present from birth.

Size: They reach only 3.5 to 5.5 inches in length and have thin, elongated legs to support their weight. Their finned tail makes up a large portion of their body length.

Diet: The Texas blind salamander preys upon aquatic invertebrates such as snails and shrimp. It’s very sensitive to slight changes in water pressure, which allows it to find prey by sensing their movements.

Habitat: Cave dweller.

Range: These salamanders have a very restricted range. They are only found in water-filled caves fed by the Edwards Aquifer in Hays County, Texas.

Life History and Reproduction: In their isolated habitat, Texas blind salamanders are the top predators. Reproduction is believed to occur year round.

Fun Fact: Texas blind salamanders rarely venture to the surface. They’re only seen aboveground when their water source pushes them upward.

Conservation Status: Because their range is so restricted and they are facing water pollution and overuse threats, the salamanders are incredibly vulnerable to extinction. They are Federally listed as Endangered, and they are also bred in captivity.

Sources:
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service – National Fish Hatchery System 
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department 
Herps of Texas

 

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