AmphibiaWeb - Chiropterotriton mosaueri


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Chiropterotriton mosaueri (Woodall, 1941)
Cave Splayfoot Salamander
family: Plethodontidae
subfamily: Hemidactyliinae
genus: Chiropterotriton
Chiropterotriton mosaueri
© 2010 Sean Michael Rovito (1 of 9)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Critically Endangered (CR)
National Status Protected by Mexican law: Special Protection category (Pr)
Regional Status None


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Diagnosis: Medium-sized body, 39.6 mm to 46.4 mm SVL. Tail is slender and longer than the body (46.5-63.9 mm tail length, tail:body ratio of 1.35), with a slight constriction at the base. Snout is truncate with the upper jaw protruding beyond the lower. Large nostrils, located near the angles of the snout. Limbs are quite long, with toes overlapping a distance of 2 costal folds when appressed. Toes are spatulate and are webbed, with Toe I both reduced and enclosed in webbing; in contrast, each outer digit has one phalanx free from the webbing. This species has 12 or 13 costal grooves. Vomerine teeth are present in 2 arched series with 8 to 13 teeth in each series. Males have posterior maxillary teeth, like C. multidentata but unlike C. chiropterus. This species can be distinguished from C. multidentata by having 12 costal grooves, Finger II longer than Finger IV, longer legs, a shorter head, and more vomerine teeth. It can be distinguished from C. chiropterus by having limbs that overlap when adpressed, proportionately longer front legs, more extensive foot webbing, a proportionately longer, more slender, and less basally constricted tail, longer and more widely separated vomerine tooth series, and (as previously mentioned) by C. mosaueri males having posterior maxillary teeth (Woodall 1941).

Description: Head has a truncated oval shape when viewed from above. Snout is truncate, with the upper jaw projecting beyond the lower jaw. Nares are large. Snout swollen below nostrils. Vomerine teeth are present in two curved series (13-10), with the distance separating the series equal to 2/3 the choanal diameter. Parasphenoid teeth are present in two distinct series, separated from vomerine teeth by 2x the choanal diameter, and with the series widening and diverging slightly at the posterior. Premaxillary-maxillary teeth number 31-25, and males have posterior maxillary teeth. Mandibular teeth number 34-38. Gular fold is well-defined, extending up the sides of the neck to join a median longitudinal groove. Males have a mental gland underneath the chin. Larger specimens have 12 costal grooves and smaller ones have 13 costal grooves. The costal grooves approach the dorsal midline but do not meet there, whereas they are continuous across the belly. Limbs are long; the overlap for adpressed toes is equivalent to two costal folds. Fingers are flattened. Relative finger length is 3>2>4>1, with finger I strongly reduced and fully embedded in the webbing. The tail is rounded in cross-section, has a slight constriction at the base, and is longer than the body, with the ratio of tail length to body length being 1.35. Vent is surrounded with papillae.

Preserved specimens are uniformly dark brown on the dorsum and nearly uniform light tan on the venter, with only a few pigment granules visible ventrally on the chest and under the limbs and tail (Woodall 1941).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Mexico

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Endemic to northeastern Mexico, in the Sierra Madre Oriental. The type locality is a mixed pine/oak forest, near Durango and northwest of Hidalgo, on a rocky slope at 2160 m asl. Chiropterotriton mosaueri inhabits damp caves (Woodall 1941). The exact location of the first cave in which this species was discovered is not known. Both the original cave and the cave where this species was found in September 2010 were accessible only by abseiling (descending down a rope). The original cave was described as a moist, three-chambered cavern at the bottom of a 20 foot vertical shaft, with stalactites several feet long inside the cavern (Woodall 1941). The cave in which this salamander was recently found serves as a source of water for the local community (S. Rovito, pers.comm.).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
This species is very active and can move about quickly (S. Rovito, pers. comm.). It is a cave-dweller (Woodall 1941), syntopic with Chiropterotriton magnipes (S. Rovito, pers. comm.).

Trends and Threats

This salamander was initially collected in 1937 (and described by Woodall in 1941) and was then not seen again for 73 years. It was rediscovered in September 2010 by Dr. Sean Rovito of Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México(UNAM), in an expedition funded by Conservation International as part of their "Search for Lost Frogs" campaign. It was originally classified as Critically Endangered, but its status was changed to Data Deficient in 2008 since the exact location of the original collection site was not clear (Stuart et al. 2008). Five individuals were seen in 1941 and two in 2010. The type locality is not protected although it is adjacent to the Parque Nacional Los Mármoles, and has suffered deforestation due to logging and expanding agriculture (Stuart et al. 2008). Deforestation may result in the caves drying out, eliminating habitat for this cave-dwelling species (Stuart et al. 2008). Another rare species of salamander, Chiropterotriton magnipes, was also found in the same cave.

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Intensified agriculture or grazing

This species was first described by Woodall (1941), as Oedipus mosaueri. Woodall (1941) thought this species was closely related to Chiropterotriton multidentatus (then known as Oedipus multidentata) and Darda (2004) thought that it might be conspecific with C. multidentatus.

The specific epithet was given in honor of Dr. Walter Mosauer, a herpetologist and professor at UCLA, who specialized in the study of Mexican amphibians and reptiles. C. mosaueri was collected during his final field expedition (Woodall 1941).


Darda, D. M. (1994). "Allozyme variation and morphological evolution among Mexican salamanders of the genus Chiropterotriton (Caudata: Plethodontidae)." Herpetologica, 50, 164-187. [link]

Stuart, S., Hoffmann, M., Chanson, J., Cox, N., Berridge, R., Ramani, P., Young, B. (eds) (2008). Threatened Amphibians of the World. Lynx Edicions, IUCN, and Conservation International, Barcelona, Spain; Gland, Switzerland; and Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Woodall, H. T. (1941). ''A new Mexican salamander of the genus Oedipus.'' Occasional Papers of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, 444, 1-4.

Originally submitted by: Kellie Whittaker (first posted 2010-09-26)
Edited by: Kellie Whittaker (2010-09-27)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2010 Chiropterotriton mosaueri: Cave Splayfoot Salamander <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jul 13, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 13 Jul 2024.

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