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Flat-Headed Salamander

Fact File

Scientific Name: Desmognathus planiceps

Classification: Amphibian

Size: Up to 5.5 inches

Identifying Characteristics

The Flat-headed Salamander is morphologically identical to the Northern Dusky Salamander, except the head may be more broad and flat. Both are gray to brown and may have a broad brownish stripe or black spots on the back.


This species is found in south central Virginia, from Roanoke, Franklin, Floyd, Pittsylvania and Patrick counties. They occur along the banks of streams and seeps, under cover by day and emerging to forage on invertebrates at night.

Did You Know?

First described in 1955, this species was synonymized a few years later and for the next 40+ years until it was resurrected as a full species in 2008.

Role in the Web of Life

Not much is known about the life history of this species. Mating occurs in the fall or spring, and females lay eggs in a recess under some type of cover object, remaining with the eggs until they hatch. Like other dusky salamanders, they forage at night on a variety of invertebrates. Reproductive ecology is most likely similar to that of the Northern Dusky Salamander.


Species appears to be secure in Virginia.

Last updated: January 22, 2024

The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources Species Profile Database serves as a repository of information for Virginia’s fish and wildlife species. The database is managed and curated by the Wildlife Information and Environmental Services (WIES) program. Species profile data, distribution information, and photography is generated by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, State and Federal agencies, Collection Permittees, and other trusted partners. This product is not suitable for legal, engineering, or surveying use. The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources does not accept responsibility for any missing data, inaccuracies, or other errors which may exist. In accordance with the terms of service for this product, you agree to this disclaimer.