Oedipina nica
Nicaraguan Highland Worm Salamander
Subgenus: Oeditriton
family: Plethodontidae
subfamily: Hemidactyliinae
Species Description: Sunyer J, Wake DB, Townsend JH, Travers SL, Rovito SM, Papenfuss TJ, Obando LA, Koehler G 2010 A new species of worm salamander (Caudata: Plethdontidae: Oedipina) in the subgenus Oeditriton from the highlands of northern Nicaragua. Zootaxa 2613:29-39.

© 2010 Scott Travers (1 of 7)

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Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status
Other International Status None
National Status None
Regional Status None


Relative to other members of the genus Oedipina, O. nica is a slender and small species (35.3–48.5 mm standard length in males, 37.5–48.5 mm in females, based on both type series and referred specimens) with very slender hands and feet, 19–20 costal grooves between the limbs, a long tail (2x standard length), and dark brownish-black coloration with no distinct pale pigmentation on the upper parts of the limbs. In the type series, males have 1–2 premaxillary teeth while the single female paratype has four premaxillaries. Maxillary teeth range from 41–47 in males and number 48 in the female paratype. Males have 9–16 vomerine teeth and the female paratype has 18 vomerine teeth. The costal grooves on the body and tail are relatively shallow and the same color as the body or slightly lighter dark gray, but the deepest part of the groove lacks pigment, making the grooves appear prominent (Sunyer et al. 2010).

Oedipina nica can be distinguished from the two other species in the subgenus Oeditriton (both from Honduras), O. kasios and O. quadra, by having a more slender habitus and fewer vomerine teeth, and from other Nicaraguan Oedipina as follows: from O. collaris by being much smaller and more slender, having short limbs and narrow manus and pes, and having a short, rather bluntly tipped snout; from O. cyclocauda by being smaller and more slender without nearly pad-like feet; from O. pseudouniformis by being more slender with shorter, less robust limbs and narrower manus and pes, and by having almost uniformly dark brownish-black coloration with no distinct light pigmentation on the upper parts of the proximal segment of the limbs (Sunyer et al. 2010).

Dorsal and lateral surfaces of the head, body, limbs, and tail are generally a uniform dark brownish-black. Some individuals have faded brown on the dorsal and lateral surfaces or anterior and lateral surfaces of the head. Costal grooves on the body and tail are the same color as the body or slightly lighter dark gray, but appear prominent since pigment is lacking in the deepest part of the groove. Ventral surfaces of the head, body, limbs, and tail are slightly paler black than the dorsal surfaces. Scattered, obscure tiny white speckles are most visible behind the eye and over the shoulder, proceeding in an irregular, narrow line along the dorsolateral part of the body to the hind limbs. White spots are slightly larger ventrally on the gular and chest areas. Nasolabial protuberances are unpigmented and contrast with the surrounding tissue (Sunyer et al. 2010).

The single known juvenile (UF 156454) is jet black on the dorsal and lateral surfaces of body, head, limbs, and tail, with tiny faint dirty white flecks along the dorsum of head, body, and tail resulting in a somewhat ashy appearance. The pale flecking is most concentrated dorsolaterally and gives the impression of an irregular dorsolateral line extending from behind the jaw to the hind limb. Flecking also occurs around the mouth and chest area, with larger white speckles irregularly scattered along the head, body, tail, and limbs (Sunyer et al. 2010).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Nicaragua

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This species occurs in north-central Nicaragua, at three isolated localities from 1360–1660 m elevation : Reserva Natural Cerro Datanlí-El Diablo, Reserva Natural Cerro Kilambé, and Reserva Natural Macizos de Peñas Blancas (Sunyer et al. 2010). These localities are in the Lower Montane Wet Forest formation (Holdridge 1967), frequently referred to as cloud forest.

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
The male holotype (MVZ 263774) was collected from inside a large rotten log in a small patch of secondary cloud forest in the midst of pasture and agricultural land; paratypes and referred specimens were collected from inside dead areas at the bases of giant tree ferns, and from underneath logs, rocks, and other debris in undisturbed primary cloud forest (Sunyer et al. 2010).

Trends and Threats
Based on IUCN criteria for evaluating threatened species, the authors state that Oedipina nica should be classified as Endangered (EN B2ab[iii]). This species has a limited distribution; it is known only from three isolated highland forest areas with a total extent of less than 500 km2, and there is continued loss of habitat at these localities, despite their being reserves (Sunyer et al. 2010).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss

Oedipina nica was described by Sunyer et al. (2010). This species is a member of the subgenus Oeditriton, and is the sister species of O. kasios from central Honduras (Sunyer et al. 2010; McCranie et al. 2008). The specific epithet nica is a colloquialism for Nicaraguan people, in reference to the country of origin for the type series (Sunyer et al. 2010).


Holdridge, L. R. (1967). Life Zone Ecology. Tropical Science Center, San Jose, Costa Rica.

McCranie, J. R., Vieites, D. R., and Wake, D. B. (2008). ''Description of a new divergent lineage and three new species of Honduran salamanders of the genus Oedipina (Caudata, Plethodontidae).'' Zootaxa, 1930, 1-17.

Sunyer, J., Wake, D. B., Townsend, J. H., Travers, S. L., Rovito, S. M., Papenfuss, T. J., and Obando, L. A. (2010). ''A new species of worm salamander (Caudata: Plethodontidae: Oedipina) in the subgenus Oeditriton from the highlands of northern Nicaragua.'' Zootaxa, 2613, 29-39.

Written by Josiah Townsend (josiahhtownsend AT, University of Florida
First submitted 2010-10-25
Edited by Kellie Whittaker (2010-11-22)

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb: Information on amphibian biology and conservation. [web application]. 2016. Berkeley, California: AmphibiaWeb. Available: (Accessed: Sep 30, 2016).

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