Texas Blind Salamander at Brookfield Zoo

Texas Blind Salamander

On your next visit to Brookfield Zoo take a peek at one of the most unique-looking and smallest animals at the zoo—the Texas blind salamander. They can be seen in an aquarium in the Living Coast exhibit at the Rocky Shores habitat.

Eight salamanders arrived a few months ago from Audubon Zoo in Louisiana, making Brookfield Zoo one of only three accredited North American institutions to have this species. Found only in the water-filled caves of the Edwards Aquifer in San Marcos Texas, these salamanders are neotenic, meaning they never fully metamorphose, remaining in a juvenile-like aquatic stage even as adults.

Texas Blind Salamander

The species is listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, and it is classified as endangered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. The biggest threat to the species is water pollution and overuse of water. A program that focuses on habitat restoration and modifications to prevent low water flows was initiated in 2013 to minimize stress on animals that live in the ecosystem, including the Texas blind salamander.

Two tiny black spots found under the skin are its eyes, making the species totally blind, which is why the salamander is so adapted for life in a predominantly aquatic and underground environment. It is a top predator and is able to find its next meal by sensing movement in its prey when there is subtle changes in water’s pressure. The diet consists mainly of snail, shrimp, and other invertebrates. The species is a translucent white color with bright red gills that protrude from the throat area. They have a finned tail that makes up a large portion of their body length, which is between 3½ to 5½ inches.

Posted: 9/6/2018 3:34:41 PM by Bryan Todd Oakley

CZS & Brookfield Zoo

Since the opening of Brookfield Zoo in 1934, the Chicago Zoological Society has had an international reputation for taking a cutting-edge role in animal care and conservation of the natural world. Learn more about the animals, people, and research that make up CZS here at our blog.


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