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Black Mountain Salamander

Fact File

Scientific Name: Desmognathus welteri

Classification: Amphibian

Size: Up to 6.75 inches

Distribution: The Black Mountain Salamander occurs in far western Virginia, from Smyth and Grayson counties westward. They inhabit small to moderate streams with rocky substrates, but may forage in surrounding forests on wet evenings.

Identifying Characteristics

The Black Mountain Salamander is usually light brown with varying amounts of black to dark brown spotting on the back. The belly is whitish with light brown to gray speckling. The gradation from the darker back to the lighter belly is very gradual. The tips of the toes are dark colored.

Did You Know?

Because the Black Mountain Salamander occurs in coal country in far southwestern Virginia, the major threat to its habitat is acidification of streams from mining.

Role in the Web of Life

Mating probably occurs in spring. In June, females deposit 20–30 eggs in clusters inside leaf-litter packs and under rocks and logs along stream banks, and will attend the eggs until they hatch in September. Larvae transform the following summer. Adults feed on a variety of invertebrates.

Conservation

Species appears to be secure in Virginia.

Last updated: February 22, 2021