AmphibiaWeb - Eurycea rathbuni


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Eurycea rathbuni (Stejneger, 1896)
Texas Blind Salamander
Subgenus: Typhlomolge
family: Plethodontidae
subfamily: Hemidactyliinae
genus: Eurycea

© 2007 Danté B Fenolio (1 of 13)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Vulnerable (VU)
NatureServe Use NatureServe Explorer to see status.
National Status USA Federally Listed Endangered (1967)
Regional Status Texas State Listed Endangered
Access Conservation Needs Assessment Report .



View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
View Bd and Bsal data (2 records).

An aquatic, cave-dwelling salamander. This weird-looking animal is gilled throughout life, has extremely thin limbs, and is virtually pigmentless. The eyes are reduced and non-functional. A tail fin is present. Adults are 9-13.5 cm total length, with 12 costal grooves. Juveniles have proportionally larger eyes. See Petranka (1998) for references.

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: United States

U.S. state distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Texas


View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
View Bd and Bsal data (2 records).
This species has an extremely restricted range and has been found at a small number of localities near San Marcos, Hays County, Texas. Adults and larvae are adapted for dwelling underground and may occur quite deep. Pools where this species has been collected have minimal current and nearly constant temperature of 21-22°. See Petranka (1998) for references. It depends on clean, cool water from the Edwards Aquifer, protected in Texas and home to other highly adapted flora and fauna.

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Very little is known about the biology of this species. Courtship has been observed in captivity. This species has a tail-straddling walk similar to what has been observed in other plethodontid salamanders. Fertilization is by means of a spermatophore deposited on the substrate by the male and picked up in the cloaca by the female (Belcher 1988). Small juveniles have been found throughout the year and breeding may be aseasonal. One gravid female contained 39 mature ova. Known diet items include blind shrimp, snails, and amphipods (Longley 1978).

Trends and Threats
This species has a restricted range and is not commonly encountered. The San Marcos River system is protected and Eurycea rathbuni is protected at both state and national levels (Petranka 1998).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

Subtle changes to necessary specialized habitat

Until recently E. rathbuni and E. robusta were placed in the genus Typhlomolge. Although they are extreme in their specializations for living in underground aquatic systems, these two species are closely related to other species of Eurycea from Texas and the eastern United States (Chippindale 1995; Petranka 1998).


Belcher, D. L. (1988). "Courtship behavior and spermatophore deposition by the subterranean salamander, Typhlomolge rathbuni (Caudata, Plethodontidae)." Southwestern Naturalist, 33, 124-126.

Chippindale, P. T. (1995). Evolution, phylogeny, biogeography, and taxonomy of Central Texas spring and cave salamanders, Eurycea and Typhlomolge (Plethodontidae: Hemidactyliini. Ph.D Dissertation, University of Texas.

Longley, G. (1978). ''Status of Typhlomolge (= Eurycea) rathbuni, the Texas Blind Salamander.'' Endangered Species Report 2. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Albuquerque, NM, 2:1-45.

Petranka, J. W. (1998). Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C. and London.

Originally submitted by: Meredith J. Mahoney (first posted 2000-07-24)
Distribution by: Michelle S. Koo (updated 2021-04-27)
Trends and threats by: Michelle S. Koo (updated 2021-04-27)

Edited by: M. J. Mahoney, Michelle Koo (2021-04-27)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2021 Eurycea rathbuni: Texas Blind Salamander <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Apr 19, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 19 Apr 2024.

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