Plethodon idahoensis
(Coeur d'Alene Salamander)

Key Characteristics:

Adult Characteristics

Larval Characteristics

Egg Characterisitcs

Nasolabial groove

No free-living larval stage


Yellow patch on throat


Grape-like cluster

Parotoid glands


Attached via single thread

Parasphenoid teeth



General Description:
Coeur d' Alene Salamanders are small, slender salamanders attaining lengths of around 100mm (4 in.).  They have a grayish-black ground color with light colored speckles.  The dorsal stripe has uneven edges and is a yellow or gold color.  The ventral coloration is also dark with the exception of a yellow patch on the throat.  This helps distinguish it from the Long-toed Salamander, which lacks this patch.  Other features of this species that aid in distinguishing it from Long-toed Salamanders are the slender body form, short toes and nasolabial grooves.

The larvae of this species develop within the egg and consequently there are no free-living forms.  The eggs are small, unpigmented, and are laid in a grape-like cluster.  The egg cluster is attached to the underside of a rock or log via a single thread.

Idaho Distribution:
In Idaho the Coeur d'Alene Salamander is found in the northern part of the state.

Found in 3 major types of habitat: springs or seepages; spray zones of waterfalls; and edges of streams. Often associated with fractured rock formations.

These salamanders are generally found in moist talus, seeps and splash zones, which may be situated in open forests, meadows or riparian areas.  Couer d'Alene Salamander eggs are deposited terrestrially, and can be found in similar habitat under rocks or logs.

Feeds on aquatic insects.

In northern Idaho, emerges from winter hibernation in late March and is active near surface through April and May. Retreats underground to aestivate (except near seepages and waterfalls) from June to mid-September, becomes active again with September through early November rains, then hibernates until March. Surface activity is negatively correlated with high daytime temperature and number of days since last rain.

Mating occurs in late summer and fall, and occasionally in spring. Females store sperm up to 9 months before fertilizing eggs. Average of 6 eggs are laid in April-May. Young emerge from underground in September. Individuals first breed in fourth and fifth years. In Idaho, females have biennial reproductive cycles.



Unprotected nongame species

Global Rank:


State Rank:


Important State References:
Cassirer, E.F., C.R. Groves, and D. Genter.1993. Sensitive species management guide for the Coeur d’Alene salamander. Idaho Dept. Fish & Game, Boise, and the Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena. 38pp.

Original images provided by Charles R. Peterson and William Leonard, 1997
Species description, key characteristics and original html by John Cossel Jr. 1997.
Species ecological information from Groves et al.© 1997.
Updated design, image optimization and final revision by Ean Harker ©1999, 2000.
Adaptation for DAI by Stephen Burton and Mike Legler 1999.