Northern Dusky Salamander

Fact File

Scientific Name: Desmognathus fuscus

Classification: Amphibian

Size: Up to 5.5 inches

Distribution: This species occurs statewide, except for the Eastern Shore. They inhabit streams and their floodplains, and the margins of seeps and swamps.

Identifying Characteristics

This species is extremely variable in coloration, but is typically gray to brown on the back, and may have a brownish stripe down the center of the back, bordered by black. The belly is cream-colored with black and white speckling. All but the base of the tail is triangular in cross section. They have a light eye to jaw stripe, and the rear legs are larger than the front.

Did You Know?

Stream breeding salamanders typically have short, reduced gills in comparison to pond breeders.

Role in the Web of Life

This species can be found under rocks, logs, and other debris along streams, and other muddy areas. They forage at night on a variety of invertebrates. Mating can occur in the fall or spring. Females lay their eggs in small depressions under cover objects along their home waterway. Larvae metamorphose in late summer or fall.


Species appears to be secure in Virginia.

Last updated: February 22, 2021