Texas Blind Salamander
ESA Status: Endangered Species
Description: The Texas blind salamander is smooth, unpigmented, and translucent. It has a large and broad head with a strongly flattened snout and tiny eyes under the skin. The limbs are long and slender with four toes on the forefeet and five toes on the hind feet. It retains its juvenile form, including features such as gills, in the adult sexually mature-stage of the life cycle. The Texas blind salamander is of considerable scientific interest due to its uniqueness. It is the most advanced troglobitic (living only in caves) salamander known in the world today, displaying many adaptations toward total life in a cave. It may prove to be of considerable value in gauging water quality changes in the Edwards Aquifer. This species is listed as endangered by USFWS and Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD).
Size: Three – four inches in length.
Habitat: Edwards Aquifer in the San Marcos area. All collections of Texas blind salamanders have occurred in Hays County, and according to the USFWS distribution of this species may be limited to the Edwards Aquifer beneath and near the City of San Marcos and an area as small as 25.9 square miles (USFWS 1996). They have been observed in caves with access to the water table, traveling along submerged ledges within the aquifer. It is likely that they are sensitive to changes in water temperatures, preferring the thermally constant temperatures of the Edwards Aquifer.