AmphibiaWeb - Hynobius lichenatus


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Hynobius lichenatus Boulenger, 1883
Northeast Salamander, Tohoku Sansho-uo
Subgenus: Hynobius
family: Hynobiidae
subfamily: Hynobiinae
genus: Hynobius
Hynobius lichenatus
© 2019 Henk Wallays (1 of 24)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Least Concern (LC)
National Status None
Regional Status None
conservation needs Access Conservation Needs Assessment Report .


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Hynobius lichenatus has a snout to vent length of 50-70 mm and a total length of 90-140 mm. Its limbs are relatively long and the toes of its fore- and hindfeet just barely make contact when the limbs are adpressed to the body. It has 11, sometimes 12, costal grooves. Its hindfeet have 5 toes, but the 5th toe is often very rudimentary. The tail length of H. lichenatus is less than half its total length. The ground color on its dorsum and flanks is generally dark or blackish brown, densely flecked with tiny pale spots, which gives it the appearance of being covered with lichens.

Hynobius nigrescens often occurs in sympatry with H. lichenatus, even breeding in the same ponds. It can be distinguished by its larger size, longer limbs, and much darker color than H. lichenatus. The egg sacs also are entirely different. (See species account for H. nigrescens). H. tokyoensis is also fairly similar to H. lichenatus, but has shorter limbs that do not touch when adpressed.

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Japan

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View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
amphibiandisease logo View Bd and Bsal data (1 records).
Hynobius lichenatus is found in the prefectures of Aomori, Akita, Miyagi, Iwate, Yamagata, Fukushima, Niigata, Gunma, Tochigi, and Ibaragi. It occurs from coastal areas up to altitudes of about 1500 m., but seems to prefer low hills of several hundred meters above sea level.

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

Hynobius lichenatus belongs to the family Hynobiidae, which is one of only two salamander families exhibiting external fertilization of eggs. Depending on the locality and altitude, H. lichenatus breeds from March to June, when the spring thaw begins. This species seems to prefer quiet pools formed at wide places in mountain rivulets. The female lays two transparent banana-shaped egg sacs, which are characterized by their rugose appearance. Each sac may contain from 20 to 30 or more eggs. The larvae are 12-14 mm at birth but grow to about 40 mm by autumn, feeding on animal plankton, freshwater shrimp, water insects, etc. Most larvae metamorphose by autumn of the year of birth, but some late-hatching individuals may overwinter and emerge the following spring. Postbreeding adults and metamorphosed juveniles disperse in the general area of the breeding site. There are indications that juveniles take four to five years to reach sexual maturity.

The Japanese name stems from the species' distribution in the Tohoku, or northeast, region of Honshu.


Goris, R.C. and Maeda, N. (2004). Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Japan. Krieger Publishing Company, Malabar, Florida.

Originally submitted by: Nichole Winters (first posted 2007-01-23)
Edited by: Kellie Whittaker (2007-06-14)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2007 Hynobius lichenatus: Northeast Salamander <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jun 15, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 15 Jun 2024.

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