Aneides ferreusClouded Salamander

Geographic Range

Clouded salamanders occur in the coastal forests of Oregon and northern California. Their range extends from the Columbia River south through the Siskiyou Mountains, the western Cascades of Oregon (although they are not found in the extreme northwestern part of the Coast Mountains nor the large river valleys of western Oregon) and into northwestern California, where they can be found near the junction of Hurdygurdy Creek and Goose Creek with the South Fork of the Smith River near the coast, and north of the junction of the Salmon and Klamath rivers further inland. Additionally, an allopatric group is found in the forests of Vancouver Island and the adjacent islands of British Columbia. They range from sea level to about 1500 m elevation but have been known to reach as high as 1700 m. (Nussbaum, Brodie and Storm, 1983; Petranka, 1998; Staub and Wake, 2019) (Nussbaum, et al., 1983; Petranka, 1998; Staub and Wake, 2019; Storm, 2005)


Aneides ferreus inhabit mesic forests, particularly forest edges and clearings caused by fires. They are found primarily in decaying logs and stumps, under slabs of loosened bark on trees and on the ground, and in cracks on cliff faces. Clouded salamanders primarily inhabit Douglas fir wood but are also found, less commonly, in Port Orford cedar, alder, and redwood. Decayed wood that has been infested by ants, termites, and other invertebrates creates places for this species to burrow. When excess drying of the bark occurs, the salamanders leave. Aneides ferreus are partially arboreal and, although accounts vary, have been described as inhabiting spaces 7-40 m above ground. Whereas juvenile Aneides ferreus prefer bark litter over leaf litter or rock, subadults choose bark litter at higher temperatures between 20°C and 25°C and show no preference between bark litter or rock and lower temperatures. Adults show an equal preference for bark litter and rock yet select against leaf litter. (Nussbaum, Brodie and Storm, 1983; Petranka, 1998; Staub and Wake, 2019; Storm, 2005) (Nussbaum, et al., 1983; Petranka, 1998; Staub and Wake, 2019; Storm, 2005)

  • Range elevation
    0 to 1700 m
    0.00 to 5577.43 ft

Physical Description

Clouded salamanders have a brown dorsal color that is overlain with greenish gray, pale gold, and reddish hues as well as sprinkled with brass-colored specks which are usually concentrated on the snout, shoulder, and upper tail base. The venter of adults is a dusky gray. They have expanded toes with squared off tips. The toes of adpressed limbs slightly overlap. Their rounded prehensile tail aids in their climbing ability. Adult males have a triangular head due to their powerful jaw muscles. Mature females are slightly longer than males, with maximum sizes of 65 mm and 63 mm snout to vent length respectively. Clouded salamanders may grow to a length of 133 mm total length with 16-17 costal grooves. The young are dark brown and have a brass colored dorsal stripe extending from the neck to the tip of the tail where the color is most intense. There is a brass colored triangle on the top of the head. Juvenile Aneides ferreus develop a more subdued color with a brown dorsum clouded with pale gray and scattered with brassy flecks as their brassy stripe disappears. (Nussbaum, Brodie, and Storm, 1983; Petranka, 1998; Storm, 2005) (Nussbaum, et al., 1983; Petranka, 1998; Storm, 2005)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • female larger
  • Range length
    133 (high) mm
    5.24 (high) in


Clouded salamanders are terrestrial, so they lay their eggs in rotten logs or between rocks. The eggs are extended from the roof of the crevices by pedicels. They hatch as juveniles and develop into adults their development is direct (Nussbaum, et al, 1983). (Nussbaum, et al., 1983)


Little is known of the courtship of clouded salamanders but it is possible that mating is aseasonal. Studies show that A. ferrus do a "circular tail-walk" that transfers a spermatophore to a female (Storm, 2005). It is also possible that mating is competitive, as shown by the scars more frequently seen on males (Petranka, 1998). (Petranka, 1998; Storm, 2005)

Female A. ferrus lays their eggs in spring and early summer in a rotten log or between rocks. The eggs are suspended individually on the top of the nest by pedicles, or gel like strands, and twisted together at a point. In Autumn, the eggs hatch (Nussbaum, et al, 1983). (Nussbaum, et al., 1983)

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • Breeding interval
    Clouded salamanders breed in the spring.
  • Breeding season
    Egg laying occurs in spring and early summer.
  • Range number of offspring
    8 eggs to 18 eggs
  • Average time to hatching
    60 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    3 years
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    2 years

Clouded salamanders, particularly females, tend to stay with their eggs but there have been cases where there has been no parent or both male and female around the eggs (Nussbaum, et al, 1983). (Nussbaum, et al., 1983)

  • Parental Investment
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female


It is estimated that clouded salamanders may live for at least five years in the wild. (Storm, 2005) (Storm, 2005)

  • Typical lifespan
    Status: wild
    5 (low) years


Clouded salamanders are often found singly under stumps and logs, this can be both in the bark and underneath it, in primarily Douglas fir forests. They have been found to be quite aggressive as studies have found that a majority of males and some females had scars from fighting. They do not release a chemical in order to mark territory and are less aggressive than salamander species that do so (Staub and Wake, 2019). (Staub and Wake, 2019)

Communication and Perception

Clouded salamanders are not known to engage in any acoustic communication.

  • Communication Channels
  • visual

Food Habits

Clouded salamanders are carnivorous throughout their lives. As young, they feed on microorganisms and as they grow older and become more terrestrial they feed on invertebrates (Petranka, 1998).


Although the predators of the Aneides ferreus have not been documented, many including James Petranka, believe they include forest birds, snakes, and carnivorous mammals. To protect themselves from these predators, clouded salamanders are known to rapidly flee by crawling away, going into defensive postures by flipping their tails and heads up, or becoming immobile (Staub and Wake, 2019). (Staub and Wake, 2019)

Ecosystem Roles

Clouded salamanders, like most amphibians, are an indicator species. This means that their presence in the area can indicate a healthy habitat and fresh water sources nearby. Due to this type of salamanders ability to breathe through lungs and skin they are very susceptible to changes and pollution in their habitats. Amphibians have been begun to understand the importance of not just amphibians but salamanders, as predator and prey, and what they tell us about the future, past, and present of our ecosystems (Nussbaum, Brodie, and Storm, 1983).

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

There are no current positive economic impacts made by the clouded salamander.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no current positive economic impacts made by the clouded salamander. There are also no negative economic impacts from the clouded salamander. However, due to their current protection in Oregon, they may in the future stop any destruction of old growth forests there (Staub and Wake, 2019). (Staub and Wake, 2019)

Conservation Status

Populations have been lost due to urban sprawl and forestry management practices. This species likely does not survive in areas where forests are intensively managed on short rotation cycles because these land plots undergo a severe reduction in moisture conditions as well as the amount of woody debris that make up an essential part of their habitat. Clouded salamanders are listed as Protected in Oregon. (Petranka, 1998; Staub and Wake, 2019) (Petranka, 1998; Staub and Wake, 2019)


Mariel Campoverde (author), Seattle University, Emily Nielsen (author), Seattle University, Grace Rosebrook (author), Seattle University, Gordon Miller (editor), Seattle University.



living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map


uses sound to communicate


having coloration that serves a protective function for the animal, usually used to refer to animals with colors that warn predators of their toxicity. For example: animals with bright red or yellow coloration are often toxic or distasteful.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


A large change in the shape or structure of an animal that happens as the animal grows. In insects, "incomplete metamorphosis" is when young animals are similar to adults and change gradually into the adult form, and "complete metamorphosis" is when there is a profound change between larval and adult forms. Butterflies have complete metamorphosis, grasshoppers have incomplete metamorphosis.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


specialized for leaping or bounding locomotion; jumps or hops.


remains in the same area


lives alone


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


Living on the ground.


defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement


uses sight to communicate


Nussbaum, R., E. Brodie, R. Storm. 1983. Clouded Salamander. Pp. 74-77 in Amphibians and Reptiles of the Pacific Northwest. Moscow, Idaho: University Press of Idaho.

Petranka, J. 1998. Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Staub, N., D. Wake. 2019. "Aneides ferreus" (On-line). Amphibiaweb. Accessed May 21, 2019 at

Storm, R. 2005. Clouded Salamander. Pp. 86-89 in L Jones, W Leonard, D Olson, eds. Amphibians of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle, WA: Seattle Audubon Society.