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Four-Toed Salamander

Fact File

Scientific Name: Hemidactylium scutatum

Classification: Amphibian

Size: 2-4 inches

Life Span: These salamanders can live up to 9 years in the wild

Identifying Characteristics

Adults and juveniles are reddish brown and enamel white on the belly with black spots. Their rear feet have 4 toes instead of the 5 in other salamanders.


They are found throughout most of Virginia. Preferred habitat is hardwood forests with adjacent or imbedded wetlands such as swamps and temporary pools. They avoid wetlands with fish. Sphagnum mats are an important element because they lay their eggs in the moss.

Did You Know?

Adults will break off their own tails at the constriction point when attacked by a predator. The detached tail wiggles and directs the predator’s attention away from the salamander’s body.

Role in the Web of Life

Mating occurs on land and females return to wetlands to lay 4–80 eggs in late winter and early spring. Females will remain in the sphagnum with the eggs until they hatch. Adults and juveniles eat invertebrates. Marbled and Spotted Salamander larvae and Red-spotted Newts eat the larvae. Birds, shrews, and Ring-necked Snakes eat adults.

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.