Added 9 September 2003.

The Family Salamandridae: Newts and Salamanders

Genus Pachytriton - Paddle-Tail Newts

The genus Pachytriton derives its common name from the very tall and laterally compressed tail of these species. Both live in water for their entire life.

Zhao et al (see Bibliography) give the external characteristics of the genus Pachytriton as follows: head and torso flat; skin smooth; labial folds conspicuous; vertebral ridge not noticeable; limbs short, fingers and toes far apart when appressed; tongue broad, edges not free; length of snout twice the distance between the eyes.

An interesting fact is that the ranges of both species are "interlocked", ie broken up by each other (see Zhao et al for details). This led to some discussion by Zhao and his colleagues as to whether these were in fact merely subspecies, but eventually it was decided that they were full species on the grounds that there were no hybrid patterns where the ranges overlapped.

I am unaware of any having been kept in captivity outside China.

P. brevipes, Paddle-Tail Newt P. labiatum, Spotted Paddle-Tail Newt  

Scientific Name Common Name Distribution Size Notes
P. brevipes Paddle-Tail Newt SE China ? There is little data readily available on these two species at the moment, other than the genus characteristics given in Studies on Chinese Salamanders. However, from the plates given in both the books in the Bibliography, it is possible to build up a rough picture. Both appear to be a glossy black when out of the water, but the photo of P. labiatum taken in the water appears to show orange spots at least along the sides and also an orangish head. The corresponding plate of the same species on land is pronouncedly black. The head of P. labiatum in one picture is somewhat reminiscent of a sealion without the whiskers.

P. labiatum Spotted Paddle-Tail Newt  S China ?


Studies on Chinese Salamanders, Er-mi Zhao, Qixiong Hu, Yaoming Zhang and Yuhua Yang, Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, 1988. Key English-language work on all the Caudata found in China.

Herpetology of China, Er-mi Zhao and Kraig Adler, SSAR, 1993. Catalogue of practically every reptile and amphibian species found in mainland China, Hongkong, Macao, Tibet and Taiwan. There are few details of the ecology of the animals, but readers are referred to a very comprehensive bibliography, and colour plates are provided for many of the creatures listed.

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