This is a small (to about 45 mm snout-vent length; 110 mm total length), slender species with a relatively broad head but only a weakly developed neck. Tails are long and slender, usually much longer than the head + body. Limbs are moderately long for a member of this genus, but from 7 to 8.5 costal folds are uncovered when the limbs are appresed to the trunk. There are 18-19 costal grooves in males and 19-20 in females. As is typical for members of this genus, the digits are small, but well formed, and there are only four digits on the hind limbs. These are blackish animals that have a lighter, brownish, dorsal band that varies from tan to light brown and is streaked or flecked with darkerpigment. The ventral surfaces are pale gray, and there are abundant tiny white spots on the lateral and ventrolateral surfaces, extending onto the venter.
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: United States
U.S. state distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: California
This species occurs along the eastern margins of the Central Valley of California, below the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, from the American River in the north to south of the Merced River. The species probably extends to elevations around 1,000 m, but in general it occurs at low elevations in open, brushy areas, dominated by chaparral but usually only scattered deciduous and live oak and gray pine trees. It occurs at elevations between about 75 and 200 m.
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Although this species is locally abundant, little is known concerning its ecology or life history. It occurs in areas that are intensely hot during the long (usually 6 month), dry summers. Rainfall in this region ranges between 50 and 80 cm per year, and average daily termperatures exceed 27 C for 4.5 months. Accordingly, the species is active only during the moist winter and spring months, when it is found under rocks, logs, and surface litter.
Trends and Threats
This species is fortunate to occur in areas that are not heavily used by humans, and so there appear to be few threats to its continued existence. The greatest threats are probably from cutting oak trees for firewood and charcoal, and from clearing brush land for cattle grazing.
Relation to Humans
In general humans are unaware of the existence of this species, although it probably is encountered by ranchers and home owners in this generally sparsely settled region.
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Intensified agriculture or grazing
Until recently this species was confused with the widespread congener Batrachoseps attenuatus, which it closely resembles in morphology (this species generally has a wider head and longer limbs).
See another account at californiaherps.com.
Jockusch, E. L., Wake, D. B. and Yanev, K. P. (1998). ''New species of slender salamanders, Batrachoseps (Amphibia: Plethodontidae), from the Sierra Nevada of California.'' Contributions in Science, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, (472), 1-17.
Originally submitted by: David B. Wake (first posted 2000-01-22)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2004 Batrachoseps diabolicus: Hell Hollow Slender Salamander <https://amphibiaweb.org/species/5286> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jan 30, 2023.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2023. <https://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 30 Jan 2023.
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