AmphibiaWeb - Oedipina poelzi


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Oedipina poelzi Brame, 1963
Quarry Worm Salamander
Subgenus: Oedipina
family: Plethodontidae
subfamily: Hemidactyliinae
genus: Oedipina

© 2010 Division of Herpetology, University of Kansas (1 of 1)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Endangered (EN)
National Status None
Regional Status None
Access Conservation Needs Assessment Report .



View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
View Bd and Bsal data (1 records).

Oedipina poelzi is long and slender plethodontid salamander with an incredibly long tail like the other members of the genus Oedipina. These salamanders reach 46 to 64 mm in snout-vent length but their long tails contribute to total lengths between 94 and 170 mm. Adults have relatively few maxillary teeth (42-70) and 14 to 34 vomerine teeth are present. The webbing between the long, semiconical fingers and toes is thin but extensive. Additionally, O. poelzi has 19 - 20 costal grooves. The long tail in this species is not restricted at its base and is laterally compressed (Brame 1963; Savage 2002).

Oedipina poelzi resembles O. collaris but has a broader, blunt snout, wide head, eyes that are placed more closely together, and slightly longer premaxillary and maxillary teeth. Oedipina poelzi is unique among other members of the genus in that it has relatively long limbs and larger syndactylous feet (Brame 1963).

In life, Oedipina poelzi has a dark brown dorsum and black venter, which are separated by a long lateral stripe that is creamy to silvery in coloration. The tail and legs are dark with dark brown splotches. White chromatophores punctuate the lateral sides of the tail and can be found along the venter. This species has a pale spot above the postiliac gland. In alcohol, the brown dorsum and light lateral stripes are absent, but the white chromatophores can be seen in present. The iris is black (Brame 1963; Savage 2002).

The brown color of the dorsum is variable in Oedipina poelzi and ranges from a lighter orange-brown to dark brown. Yellowish or brown bands and patterning on the head and tail may be present (Brame 1963). This species is sexually dimorphic, as the males are smaller in size and have a mental gland, long premaxillary teeth, papillate venters, and nasolabial protuberances (Savage 2002).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Costa Rica


View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
View Bd and Bsal data (1 records).
Oedipina poelzi is only known from the Cordillera de Tilarán, Cordillera Central, and Cordillera de Talamanca of central Costa Rica at elevations between 75 and 2,050 m (Savage 2002). These salamanders have been collected from premontane wet forests and rain forests as well as lower montane rainforests (Wake 1987). They have primarily been collected from moss matts like those found at the type locality at the stone quarry near El Angel Waterfall (Brame 1963; Wake 1987), but have also been found under rocks and logs near streams where a constant thin layer of surface water is present (Savage 2002). Oedipina poelzi has been found with other salamanders like Oedipina uniformis, Nototrition gamezi, Nototrition abscondens, and Bolitoglossa subpalmata (Brame 1963; Savage 2002).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Salamanders of this species do not require water to breed as they presumably lay their eggs on land, and no instance of parental care is known (Savage 2002). Oedipina poelzi are direct developers (Stuart et al. 2008).

When threatened, members of this species may remain motionless, roll into a ball, or flip over entirely (Savage 2002).

Trends and Threats
According to the IUCN, Oedipina poelzi is 'Endangered' and is currently experiencing a serious population decrease (Stuart et al. 2008). Up to half of all members of this species have disappeared during the last decade and the remaining salamanders live in a fragmented and restricted habitat. Population decline may be owing to the chytrid fungus as well as the destruction of habitat by farming, deforestation, and the growth of human communities (Stuart et al. 2008).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities

The species authority is: Brame, A. H., Jr. (1963). “A new Costa Rican salamander (genus Oedipina) with a re-examination of O. collaris and O. serpens.” Los Angeles County Museum Contributions in Science 65, 1-12.

The species epithat, poelzi, was chosen after the German herpetologist Friedrich Pölz.

Salamanders of this species may exhibit molecular sequence divergences of up to 13.7% and 4% in the genes cyt b and 16s, respectively (García-París and Wake 2000).

In a recent study naming new species within the genus, Oedipina grandis and O. leptopoda form a clade sister to O. collaris. The clade uniting these three taxa is recovered as the sister group to O. poelzi (McCranie et al. 2008).


Brame, A. H., Jr. (1963). “A new Costa Rican salamander (genus Oedipina) with a re-examination of O. collaris and O. serpens.” Los Angeles County Museum Contributions in Science 65, 1-12.

García-París, M., and Wake, D. B. (2000). “Molecular phylogenetic analysis of relationships of the tropical salamander genera Oedipina and Nototriton, with descriptions of a new genus and three new species.” Copeia 2000, 42-70.

McCranie, J. R., Vieites, D. R., and Wake, D. B. (2008). ''Description of a new divergent lineage and three new species of Honduran salamanders of the genus Oedipina (Caudata, Plethodontidae).'' Zootaxa, 1930, 1-17.

Savage, J. M. (2002). The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica:a herpetofauna between two continents, between two seas. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois, USA and London.

Stuart, S., Hoffmann, M., Chanson, J., Cox, N., Berridge, R., Ramani, P., Young, B. (eds) (2008). Threatened Amphibians of the World. Lynx Edicions, IUCN, and Conservation International, Barcelona, Spain; Gland, Switzerland; and Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Wake, D. B. (1987). “Radiation of salamanders in Middle American cloud forests.” Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 74(2), 242-264.

Originally submitted by: Adam D. Marsh (first posted 2009-11-04)
Edited by: Ann T. Chang (2019-03-06)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2019 Oedipina poelzi: Quarry Worm Salamander <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Apr 15, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 15 Apr 2024.

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