The yellow-eyed ensatina (scientific name: Ensatina eschscholtzii xanthoptica) is part of an interesting salamander complex in California known as a ring species. There are seven different subspecies of the common ensatina whose habitat range forms a ring around the Central Valley of California. The subspecies may look very different at first glance, but genetically they are very similar and they can hybridize with one another. Ensatinas are also lungless salamanders so all of their breathing occurs through their skin! The different subspecies have adopted varied survival strategies which is why they differ so much in coloration. The yellow eyed ensatina, in particular, uses what is called Batesian mimicry, imitating the underbelly warning coloration of a toxic newt so predators avoid eating them.
#salamander #statepark #herpetology