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Black-Bellied Salamander

Fact File

Scientific Name: Desmognathus quadramaculatus

Classification: Amphibian

Size: Up to 8 inches

Distribution: This species occurs from central Floyd and Patrick counties westward to central Washington County, and northward to West Virginia. They live in or near streams, usually under rocks by day and emerge to forage at night, sometimes away from water on the forest floor.

Identifying Characteristics

The Black-bellied Salamander is a large, robust species with black, brown and orange marbling on the back. Belly is black. Like other Desmognathus species, the hind legs are larger than the front legs. Larvae have small whitish gills.

Did You Know?

The Black-bellied Salamander is the largest species in the genus, and will consume smaller salamanders including members of its own species.

Role in the Web of Life

Mating probably occurs in late summer and fall. Females deposit up to 80 eggs in clusters, primarily May–June, to the underside of rocks in flowing water where they are well aerated. Females usually attend the eggs. Larvae hatch July–September and live off yolk for 1–2 months then consume aquatic invertebrates. Larvae take up to 4 years to metamorphose.

Conservation

Species appears to be secure in Virginia.

Last updated: February 22, 2021