Grotto Salamander
Photo by Greg Sievert
Used by permission

Grotto Salamander
Typhlotriton spelaeus

Federal Status:

State Status:

  • Range: Kansas range map for Grotto Salamander
    Dark Blue = Counties with designated critical habitat
    Light Blue = Historical records
  • Comments: The grotto salamander is sometimes called the “ghost lizard” of Ozark caves. This amphibian has two life stages. The 2-3 year larval stage has gills, tailfins and functional eyes. It forages in spring-fed streams outside of caves. The immature salamander has flecks of yellow on a purplish-gray body. The adult stage doesn’t have gills, tail fins or coloration and resides deep inside caves. Eyesight is of no value deep inside caverns and the eyes of the larval stage are no longer functional in adults. These vestigial eyes appear as dark spots with fused or partially fused eyelids. The adult hunts blind crustaceans and other invertebrates that are detected by its sensitive skin. The grotto salamander only occurs in Kansas in Cherokee County in or near cave habitats.

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Other Amphibians on the Kansas T&E List

Kansas Wildlife Refuge
Text: Ed Miller and Bob Gress
Range Maps and Web Design: Jim Mason

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Great Plains Nature Center
6232 E. 29th Street North
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