Fun Barton Springs Salamander Facts For Kids

Anusuya Mukherjee
Feb 22, 2024 By Anusuya Mukherjee
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Diya Patel
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Barton Springs salamander facts are fun for kids.

No, this is not a little tadpole with a red flower garland. This is the Eurycea sosorum, popularly known as the Barton Springs salamander.

These salamanders are lungless, and unfortunately, their population is currently endangered. These animals are native to the state of Texas in the United States of America.

This salamander was first spotted at Barton Springs of the Zilker Park located in Austin, Texas, and hence this species gets its name. Apart from these springs, they are also found in the Hays and Travis counties. They are easily recognized by the salt-pepper pattern of their skin.

They stay underwater throughout their lives and have tiny feather-like organs, their gills, which help them breathe underwater. Though little is known about them, you can enjoy knowing what is already researched about this interesting endangered species.

If you enjoy this article, check out the spring salamander and the fire salamander.

Barton Springs Salamander Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Barton Springs salamander?

The Barton Springs salamander is a type of salamander.

What class of animal does a Barton Springs salamander belong to?

This creature comes under the class of Amphibians.

How many Barton Springs salamanders are there in the world?

There are thousands of these creatures on Earth, but there is no exact count on the Barton Springs salamander population.

Where does a Barton Springs salamander live?

The Barton Spring salamanders are predominantly aquatic, spotted mainly in springs. They adapt well to freshwater habitats.

What is a Barton Springs salamander's habitat?

These amphibians are native to the spring waters of Barton Springs of Zilker Park, Barton Creek in Central Texas. All four springs, the Parthenia Spring, Eliza Spring, Upper Barton Spring as well as the Old Mill Spring form Barton Springs, and this species is found in all four.

These shy little creatures are usually spotted hidden under rocks or dug into the gravel almost 15 ft (4.6 m) under the water surface.

They are found peeking through the aquatic vegetation and algae. They prefer clear waters and would shift their locations if the water quality and temperature seem to vary.

Who do Barton Springs salamanders live with?

The lifestyle activity of this species is not known, but in general, salamanders like to live alone, away from others of their species.

How long does a Barton Springs salamander live?

The lifespan of Barton Spring salamanders in their natural habitat is unknown, however, they have lived up to 12 years in captivity.

How do they reproduce?

As it is difficult finding these animals in their natural habitat, information related to their reproduction cycles is based on their lifestyle in captivity. These creatures are found not to be sexually dimorphic.

However, you can identify the females by seeing the eggs through their translucent skin. These salamanders can produce throughout the year. The clutch size of these salamanders has a range of up to 40 eggs, having an average clutch size of 22 eggs.

The laid eggs are extremely small, each having diameters of 0.06-0.08 in (1.5-2 mm). The larvae hatch from their eggs in two to six weeks. Females are said to lay eggs about six times a year.

Once they hatch, the juvenile salamanders have a body length of about 0.5 in (1.3 cm). They reach maturity, the end of their development, within six months after they hatch.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of this species stated by the IUCN is Vulnerable.

Barton Springs Salamander Fun Facts

What do Barton Springs salamanders look like?

Close-up of a Barton Springs salamander.

This species is really small in size. It has a small head, shoveled snout, long slender body as well as elongated feet. However, they have short tails.

Their bodies are slightly transparent, and hence the interior of the Barton Springs Salamander, such as the stomach and the eggs clutches in females, are sometimes visible through their skins. They also have five toes on each foot, and four fingers on each hand. This species also has 16 presacral vertebrae in its anatomy.

Their bodies sport the ‘salt and pepper effect, which is due to the coloration of their dorsal parts. This coloration varies from multiple hues of gray to brown, mustard, or even beige.

Multiple blotches and speckles of darker brown or olive tones are spread across the body. These speckles appear on the body due to the mixed effects of pigmentation by melanophores as well as iridophores. The presence of these elements also gives a lustrous appearance to the little animal.

The eyes of these little salamanders have golden irises. The absence of melanophores gives a paler look to the Barton Springs salamander.

The limbs and toes are spotted unevenly when observed dorsally, however, ventrally, they are not freckled. The ventral side of the salamander’s tail has a small, yellow-orange strip that runs to the tip of its tail.

But what catches your eye first when you see these little animals are their bright external gills. These salamanders have three pairs of vibrant red gills that sway in motion as they swim in shallow waters.

How cute are they?

We love how cute these little ones are, swimming in the water with their bright gills!

How do they communicate?

Sadly, we are not aware of their means of communication.

How big is a Barton Springs salamander?

The average length of the bodies of Barton Springs salamanders is about 1-3 in (2.5-7.6 cm).

Their bodies are slightly longer than an average wooden toothpick.

How fast can a Barton Springs salamander move?

Unfortunately, there is no exact information about the speed of the Barton Springs salamander. We do know that they use the slow water flow to aid their movement under the surface of the water.

How much does a Barton Springs salamander weigh?

Sadly, we do not have information on this. However, considering their small size and similar salamander species, we believe they weigh less than 0.075 oz (2 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no exclusive names for the female and male individuals of this salamander family.

What would you call a baby Barton Springs salamander?

In general, baby salamanders are called efts.

What do they eat?

The Barton Springs salamander diet is usually carnivorous, however, it is sometimes omnivorous too.

This species munches down on leeches, snails, black worms, and even small crustaceans. They also eat brine shrimp, white worms, earthworms, and sometimes aquatic plants too.

Are they poisonous?

No, these little animals are not poisonous, nor are they venomous.

Would they make a good pet?

We do not think taking them away from their natural environments and keeping them as pets would be a good idea.

Did you know...

The trend of filtering the Barton Springs pool always included the addition of bleach to clean the water from harmful organisms. However, the presence of these salamanders prevented this tradition. Hence, Austin, Texas applied for and received a 15-year permit for the incidental taking of this species during the cleaning process of these pools.

In habitats heaving lesser DO (Dissolved Oxygen) concentrations, studies have shown that this salamander species have an increase in their body movements.

Back in the 18th century, Zilker Park, where the Barton Springs salamanders are located, was dominated by horses.

The popular American star, Robert Redford, apparently learned to swim in the Barton Spring pools.

Why is the Barton Springs salamander endangered?

Climate change has caused a huge decline in the population of almost every species. The Barton Springs salamander has unfortunately become a victim of this effect as well.

Some factors which have caused changes include the increase in UV radiations, unwanted pathogen outbreaks as well as variations in the precipitation pattern.

Other causes of this species being endangered include pollution, habitat destruction, and changes in the pH of the water, thus affecting the quality of water. Such environmental changes have also affected the Dissolved Oxygen (DO) concentration of these water bodies.

Risks of the sewer lines breaking open and even chemical or oil spills might lead to a decline in the Barton Spring salamanders’ population. Increased wastage of water has also led to a decrease in the availability of groundwater.

Earlier maintenance practices of Barton Spring included the use of harsh chemicals and high-pressure hoses, which were contributing factors in the declining population of Barton Spring salamanders.

What is the importance of the Barton Springs salamander?

The Barton Springs water is a major contributor to the water supply of the Austin municipality. Thus, its cleanliness and safety have become a major concern. The addition of any contaminants can prove harmful to people depending on this water supply.

Salamanders in general are highly sensitive to the presence of any contaminants in the water bodies. Thus, the Barton Spring salamanders are a key indicator of the safety and purity of the water which comes from these springs and is distributed to Austin, Texas.

The importance of these amphibians in evaluating the water quality has ensured many measures to be taken for their safety.

Evolution in these animals has helped researchers and scientists in looking at the possibility of modern medicine being developed.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other amphibians including the hellbender salamander and the spotted salamander.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our Barton Springs salamander coloring pages.

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Written by Anusuya Mukherjee

Bachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

Anusuya Mukherjee picture

Anusuya MukherjeeBachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

With a wealth of international experience spanning Europe, Africa, North America, and the Middle East, Anusuya brings a unique perspective to her work as a Content Assistant and Content Updating Coordinator. She holds a law degree from India and has practiced law in India and Kuwait. Anusuya is a fan of rap music and enjoys a good cup of coffee in her free time. Currently, she is working on her novel, "Mr. Ivory Merchant".

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Fact-checked by Diya Patel

Bachelor of Science specializing in in Computer Science

Diya Patel picture

Diya PatelBachelor of Science specializing in in Computer Science

A member of Kidadl's fact-checking team, Diya is currently pursuing a degree in Computer Science from Ahmedabad University with an interest in exploring other fields. As part of her degree, she has taken classes in communications and writing to expand her knowledge and skills.

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