Jefferson’s Salamander

Fact File

Scientific Name: Ambystoma jeffersonianum

Classification: Amphibian

Conservation Status:

Size: Up to 7 inches

Distribution: In Virginia, Jefferson Salamanders are found in the Appalachian Mountains at higher elevations. These are hardwood forest salamanders that live underground most of their lives. Often found under logs in the flood plains of rivers and streams.

Identifying Characteristics

Adults are uniform brown to gray on the back with small bluish to silver flecks usually confined to the legs and lower sides of the body. The belly is light gray. Larvae are olive green with yellow flecks on the tail fin. Metamorphs and juveniles are gray above and have white bellies.

Did You Know?

Unlike other mole salamanders, Jefferson Salamanders engage in an amplexus-like reproductive behavior.

Role in the Web of Life

Breeding takes place in ephemeral wetlands in winter with males arriving first. Females lay 140–200 eggs in one or more, clear, gelatinous masses attached to vegetation stems. Larvae hide under leaves and emerge at night to feed on small invertebrates. Adults also feed on invertebrates. Predators include raccoons, shrews, and skunks.


Tier IV Species of Greatest Conservation Need in Virginia’s Wildlife Action Plan.

Last updated: February 22, 2021