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The official state amphibian of Alabama is the Red Hills salamander, (Phaeognathus hubrichti Highton,) adopted on April 13, 2000 Extremely secretive and rarely seen, the Red Hills salamander is thought to exist only in a limited area of south Alabama in Butler, Conecuh, Crenshaw, Covington and Monroe Counties.
The Red Hills salamander has a dark brown tail and body and grows to approximately ten inches in length. The salamander's diet consists primarily of insects and spiders.
Under federal protection since 1976, the Red Hills salamander is near extinction because of its limited range, specific habitat requirements, low reproductive rates and loss of habitat from logging and other practices. Under the Endangered Species Act, habitat for the Red Hills salamander cannot be damaged or changed without a special permit.
The red hills salamander has few easily recognized distinguishing characteristics. It is best found by recognizing potential habitat and searching for burrows rather than salamanders.. It is a relatively large salamander, growing up to 10 inches in length with a dark brown tail and body. It spends almost all its time in its burrow on shady steep bluff sites, coming to the mouth on warm, humid nights to feed on invertebrate prey. The shady, moist conditions on the bluffs where the salamander lives are critical to its survival. Loss of shade and cover leads to drying by sunlight and wind and negatively impacts both the salamander and its food.
Little is known about this salamander's reproductive cycle. The peak of sexual activity occurs in the spring; however, there is evidence that limited breeding also occurs in September, and possibly may include the summer months. The eggs are presumably deposited within the burrow system, although attempts to find the eggs have been unsuccessful. Apparently there is no aquatic larval stage. The Red Hills salamander is thought to reach sexual maturity at between 2 and 3 years of age and to have a sexual longevity of 2 to 5 years.
Act 2000-232, Acts of Alabama, April 13, 2000
Outdoor Alabama, LXXII, No. 2, 34.
US Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Program
Alabama's Governor Don Siegelman signed the legislation on April 13, 2000. Act 232 of the 2000 Alabama Legislature designated the Red Hills salamander the official state amphibian of Alabama.
By Senators Lipscomb, Butler, Armistead, Myers, Callahan, Lee, Dixon, Bedford, Little (Z), Denton, Holley, Mitchell, Lindsey, and Preuitt
An Act, To designate the Red Hills Salamander as the official state amphibian.
Under existing law, the State of Alabama does not have an official state amphibian. This bill would designate the Red Hills Salamander as the official state amphibian.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA:
Section 1. The Red Hills Salamander, Phaeognathus hubrichti Highton 1961, is hereby designated and named as the official state amphibian of Alabama.
Section 2. This act shall become effective immediately following its passage and approval by the Governor, or its otherwise becoming law.
The law designating the yellow hammer as the official Alabama state bird is Section 1-2-34 (STATE AMPHIBIAN.) of Chapter 2 (State Symbols and Honors) of Title 1 of the Code of Alabama, 1975.
CHAPTER 1-2. STATE SYMBOLS AND HONORS.
SECTION 1-2-34. STATE AMPHIBIAN.
The Red Hills Salamander, Phaeognathus hubrichti Highton 1961, is hereby designated and named as the official state amphibian of Alabama.
(Act 2000-232, p. 367, §1.)
Taxonomic Hierarchy: Red Hills Salamander
Kingdom: Animalia - animals
Phylum: Chordata - chordates
Species: P. hubrichti Highton