AmphibiaWeb - Bolitoglossa nympha
Bolitoglossa nympha

Subgenus: Nanotriton
family: Plethodontidae
subfamily: Hemidactyliinae
genus: Bolitoglossa
Species Description: Campbell JA, Smith EN, Streicher J, Acevedo ME, Brodie Jr ED 2010 New salamanders (Caudata: Plethodontidae) from Guatemala, with miscellaneous notes on known species. Misc Publ Mus Zoology Univ Mich 200: 1-66.

© 2017 Dr. Joachim Nerz (1 of 15)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status Least Concern (LC)
National Status None
Regional Status None
Access Conservation Needs Assessment Report.



View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.

Bolitoglossa nympha is a small salamander species in which males and females have a similar standard length of 39.22 mm, on average, ranging from 28 - 42 mm, and an average tail length of 31.11 mm. Its limbs are short in length. The hands and feet are completely webbed. The tail is also short (Campbell et al. 2010).

This species is very similar to Bolitoglossa occidentalis and B. rufescens and is differentiated from them by having shorter limbs. These three belong to the subgenus Nanotriton, which differs from other Bolitoglossa subgenera by having a combination of a small size, a relatively short tail, fully webbed feet, and a shorter rounded third digit of their hand (Campbell et al. 2010).

The dorsal side of the species ranges from tan to reddish brown. The ventral side can either be cream in color with darker melanophores scattered along its surface to almost completely dark, though not as dark as the flanks (Campbell et al. 2010).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Belize, Guatemala, Honduras


View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
Bolitoglossa nympha has a geographic range that includes Honduras, Guatemala, and Belize, with an elevational range of 30 - 1400 m (IUCN 2020). It is found in primary forests in humid environments alongside streams (Campbell et al. 2010).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Bolitoglossa nympha is a terrestrial member of the speciose family Plethodontidae, otherwise known as the lungless salamanders. The family constitutes two-thirds of all salamander species and is especially diverse (Wake et al. 1996).

As mentioned above, B. nympha is found within the forests of Honduras, Guatemala, and Belize, where moisture and plant cover are abundant (Anderson et al. 1999). They are commonly found on the leaves of banana trees less than a meter off the ground or under decaying plants and logs. They are also commonly found when they emerge after rain showers or during misty nights (Campbell et al. 2010).

Individuals from the genus Bolitoglossa are typically insectivorous and have diverse diets as generalists. Prey includes ants, beetles, grasshoppers, or arachnids (Anderson et al. 1999).

Many Bolitoglossine plethodontids, such as B. nympha’s close relative B. occidentalis, display a unique behavior called tongue projection. This mechanism enables the rapid-fire of their “mushroom-shaped” tongues to target their prey (Wake et al. 2000). Additional research is necessary, however, to confirm B. nympha has this mechanism.

Like other plethodontids, B. nympha has nasolabial grooves that assist in chemoreception. Pheromones and chemical signals produced by these salamanders are influential in their social behavior. While under-studied, chemoreception has the capability to identify conspecifics, attract mates during courtship rituals, and mark territory (Jaegar et al. 1993).

Little is known about the life history and reproduction of B. nympha. Based on current phylogenetic data, direct development has evolved numerous times within Plethodontidae and is found within all the species of tribe Bolitoglossini. The majority of the subgenera Bolitoglossa exhibit direct development, meaning they are oviparous, and instead of having a free-living larval stage, individuals hatch as adults after embryogenesis (Wake et al. 1996). With this phylogenetic evidence, B. nympha may be characterized similarly, but more research is needed.

An individual of the subgenus Nanotriton believed to be B. nympha was observed using its tail to assist in climbing after falling from its perch. After falling, the individual was able to use its tail to grab on to a stem and pull itself up. This mechanism could assist in preventing injuries from falling and potentially help the species escape predation (Brown 2020).

Trends and Threats
The main threat to this species in Guatemala is habitat loss due to deforestation from logging and timber enterprises, mining, and agricultural expansion. In Honduras, palm oil and cacao plantations and their associated herbicides and pesticides are another major threat to this species, followed by logging, urban development, livestock grazing, and man-made fires. Climate change, specifically significantly increased rainfall and the associated aftermaths of it, droughts, and other weather extremes, is considered a threat in various other parts of this species range. Lastly, a potential threat that could affect species of this genus in Honduras is infection from Chytrid fungi. Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis infections has been reported in other Bolitoglossa species in Honduras (IUCN 2020) and Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans could have devastating effects if introduced to the Americas (IUCN 2020, Feldmeier et al. 2016).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Intensified agriculture or grazing
Prolonged drought
Habitat fragmentation
Local pesticides, fertilizers, and pollutants
Climate change, increased UVB or increased sensitivity to it, etc.


Bayesian Inference on the mitochondrial DNA 12S ribosomal subunit gene placed B. nympha as a sister group to both the Nanotriton subgenera, which includes B occidentalis and B. rufescens, and the Mayamandra subgenera, which includes B. hartwegi, B. stuarti, and B. xibalba(Campbell et al. 2010). Another Bayesian analysis of mitochondrial DNA of 16S and cytb genes placed B. nympha as a sister taxon to B. rufescens with B. occidentalis as the next most closely related species (Rovito et al. 2012).

The species epithet, “nympha”, comes from the Latin word “nympha”, which ascribes to a female spirit that lives in the forest or woods (Campbell et al. 2010).


Anderson, M.T., Mathis, A (1999). ''Diets of two sympatric neotropical salamanders, Bolitoglossa mexicana and B. rufescens, with notes on reproduction for B. rufescens.'' Journal of Herpetology, 33(4), 601-607.

Brown, T.W. (2020). “Salamander using its prehensile tail - Bolitoglossa cf. nympha (Plethodontidae; sub-genus Nanotriton), Honduras.” The Herpetological Bulletin, 152, 36-37. [link]

Campbell, J. A., Smith, E. N., Streicher, J., Acevedo, M. E., Brodie, E. D. Jr. (2010). "New salamanders (Caudata: Plethodontidae) from Guatemala, with miscellaneous notes on known species." Miscellaneous Publications Museum of Zoology University of Michigan, 200, 1-66. [link]

Feldmeier, S., Schefczyk, L., Wagner, N., Heinemann, G., Veith, M., Lötters, S., Gratwicke, B. (2016). “Exploring the distribution of the spreading lethal salamander chytrid fungus in its invasive range in Europe - a macroecological approach.” PloS one, 11(10), e0165682. [link]

IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group. (2020). "Bolitoglossa nympha." The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T194320A2312193. Accessed on 22 February 2022.

Jaeger, R., Forester, D. (1993). "Social behavior of plethodontid salamanders." Herpetologica, 49(2),163-175. [link]

Rovito, S.M., Parra-Olea, G., Vásquez-Almazán, C.R. Luna-Reyes R., Wake D.B. (2012). “Deep divergences and extensive phylogeographic structure in a clade of lowland tropical salamanders.” BMC Evol Biol 12, 255. [link]

Wake, D. B., Hanken, J. (1996). "Direct development in the lungless salamanders: what are the consequences for developmental biology, evolution, and phylogenesis?" International Journal of Developmental Biology, 40, 859-869. [link]

Wake, D., Deban, S. (2000). "Terrestrial feeding in salamanders." Feeding: Form, Function and Evolution in Tetrapod Vertebrates. Schwenk, K., eds., Academic Press, Orlando, 95-115.

Originally submitted by: Olyvia Brindley-Valentin, Courtney Bylsma, Lily Cappel (2022-05-18)
Description by: Olyvia Brindley-Valentin, Courtney Bylsma, Lily Cappel (updated 2022-05-18)
Distribution by: Olyvia Brindley-Valentin, Courtney Bylsma, Lily Cappel (updated 2022-05-18)
Life history by: Olyvia Brindley-Valentin, Courtney Bylsma, Lily Cappel (updated 2022-05-18)
Trends and threats by: Olyvia Brindley-Valentin, Courtney Bylsma, Lily Cappel (updated 2022-05-18)

Edited by: Ann T. Chang (2022-05-18)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2022 Bolitoglossa nympha <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed May 22, 2022.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2022. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 22 May 2022.

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