This extremely small species is rare to find in zoo collections. The first successful breeding at the Fort Worth Zoo resulted in 30 salamander hatchlings from 2019 and 2020. This species serves as part of a refugia population, meaning it was once a more widespread species that is now only supported in an isolated location. This is often due to climate change, geography or human activities.
The Barton Springs salamander has one of the smallest geographical areas of any vertebrate species in North America, as it is found only in spring outlets at Barton Springs in Austin, Texas.
Specifically, its natural, small habitat is threatened by the quality of the water flowing through the spring outlets that is affected by urban runoff and decreased groundwater supply from an increase in urban water use.
At 2.5 inches in length, the salamander is often dark gray or purple-gray and can be found with salt-and-pepper mottling on its back. It has three feathery, red gills on either side of the base of its head. If you look closely, you can find them in MOLA.