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Bigfoot Splayfoot Salamander

Chiropterotriton magnipes


The Critically Endangered bigfoot splayfoot salamander is endemic to Mexico and found in damp caves surrounded by forest at around 2,4000 metres above sea level.

They are moderately sized with webbed feet and are often found climbing cave walls. This species has the ability of caudal (tail) autotomy, whereby it can detach their tail and regrow it later as a defence escape method. It is therefore not unusual to see individuals missing part of their tail.

This species is part of the Plethodontidae, the largest salamander family, comprising almost two thirds of all known species. They are thought to have diverged from all other amphibian species over 100 million years ago, in the Early Cretaceous. They are as distantly related to all other amphibian lineages as humans are to elephants, and emerged when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth!

Despite being seen regularly in the past, the bigfoot splayfoot salamander has not been recorded in recent years. Threats include the removal of the forest habitat above the caves, as this causes the caves to dry out, which may explain the disappearance of this species. The bigfoot splayfoot salamander does not occur in any protected area therefore the protection of the original habitat, both the caves and the surrounding forest, is urgent. The species is protected by Mexican law under the “Special Protection” category.

  • Order: Caudata
  • Family: Plethodontidae
  • Population: Possibly extinct
  • Trend: decreasing
  • Size: 80-120mm

EDGE Score

EDGE Score: 6.05 (?)
ED Score: 25.52 (?)
GE / IUCN Red List (?)
Not Evaluated Data Deficient Least Concern Near Threatened Vulnerable Endangered Critically Endangered Extinct in the Wild Extinct


This species is known only from south eastern San Luis Potosi and eastern Queretaro Mexico, at around 2,400 metres above sea level.

Habitat and Ecology

This species inhabits caves and crevices under pine-oak forests. This species reproduces by direct development whereby offspring emerge from the egg as miniature versions of the adults and bypass a free living larval stage. This process is independent of water making this a truly terrestrial species.

Find out more

This wordcloud illustrates the threats facing this species. The size of each word indicates the extent of a species range that is affected by that threat (larger size means a greater area is affected). The colour of the word indicates how much that threat impacts the species (darker shades of red mean the threat is more severe).

Logging Fire

Threat wordcloud key:

Small area affected
Large area affected
Least severe
Most severe
Severity unknown
Source: The IUCN List of Threatened Species. Version 2017.1.
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