Diagnosis: Small salamander with completely webbed digits. Varies in coloration from nearly uniform black dorsum to dull orange dorsum and dorsal surface of tail (Savage 2002).
Description: Adults measure 54 to 76 mm in total length. Adult males measure 28 to 36 mm. in standard length, while adult females masure 30 to 37 mm in standard length. Tail length is moderately long, about 47 to 53% of standard length. Eyes are moderately large and slightly protuberant. There are 34 to 55 maxillary teeth in adults, and 15 to 40 vomerine teeth. In adult males, there are 1/2 to 2 costal folds between adpressed limbs, while in adult females, there are 2 to 4. Hands and feet are completely webbed, with subterminal pads present. Head width is 15 to 16% of standard length. In adult males, leg length is 21 to 24% of standard length, while in adult females, leg length is 25 to 27% of standard length (Savage 2002).
It varies in color from being nearly completely black (or dark brown) dorsally, to a dull orange dorsum plus dull orange on the dorsal surfaces of the tail. Alternatively there may be a light brown field bordered by dark brown or black longitudinal stripes on each side. Venter is dark brown or black or spotted yellow and dark brown. Iris is pale brown (Wake et al. 1973).
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Costa Rica, Panama
This species can be found in the humid lower montane zone on both slopes of the southern Cordillera de Talamanca of Costa Rica, at elevations from 1,670 to 2,100 m asl. Its habitat also extends into western Panama, at elevations from 1,810 to 2,660 m asl (Wake et al. 1973). The eastern limit of the range in Panama is not clear since the taxonomic identification of the specimen from Volcán Baru is not definitive (Solís et al. 2008).
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
This species is active at night, foraging on vegetation up to 1 m above the ground (Wake et al. 1973). It hides during the day and can sometimes be found in bromeliads (Savage 2002). It is a direct developer (Solís et al. 2008).
Trends and Threats
Although Savage (2002) remarks that this species is not common, Solís et al. (2008) state that it is quite common in Costa Rica and has a stable population, at least at the Las Tablas site. It is known to occur in one protected area, It the Parque Internacional La Amistad on the Costa Rica-Panama border. It does not tolerate degraded habitat and thus forest destruction represents a threat (Solís et al. 2008).
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Intensified agriculture or grazing
A Spanish-language species account can be found at the website of Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad (INBio).
Savage, J. M. (2002). The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica. University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London.
Solís, F., Ibáñez, R., Savage, J., Wake, D., Chaves, G., and Bolaños, F. (2008). Bolitoglossa minutula. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.1. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded on 14 May 2010.
Wake, D. B., Brame, A. H. and Duellman, W. E. (1973). ''New species of salamanders, genus Bolitoglossa, from Panama.'' Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County - Contributions in Science, 248, 1-19.
Written by David Chen (davidchen AT berkeley.edu), University of California, Berkeley
First submitted 2009-11-02
Edited by Kellie Whittaker (2010-05-13)
Citation: AmphibiaWeb: Information on
amphibian biology and conservation. [web application]. 2013. Berkeley, California:
(Accessed: May 23, 2013).
AmphibiaWeb's policy on data use.