Northern Gray-Cheeked Salamander

Fact File

Scientific Name: Plethodon montanus

Classification: Amphibian

Size: Up to 6 inches

Distribution: Occurs in southwest Virginia from Giles County south through the Valley and Ridge physiographic province. This species inhabits high-elevation hardwood and spruce-fir forests with an abundance of rocks and logs.

Identifying Characteristics

The body is uniformly dark gray with light or lighter gray pigment behind the eye. Belly is light gray with an even lighter gray chin. Juveniles resemble the adults.

Did You Know?

Male salamanders will sometimes mimic female courtship behavior in an effort to cause competitive males to waste their “sperm packets”.

Role in the Web of Life

Active on the surface from mid-May to October. At lower elevations, individuals may remain active throughout the winter except during periods of freezing temperatures. Courtship has been observed from mid-July to early October. Females lay less than 10 eggs and will remain with the clutch until hatching occurs in late summer or early fall. However, hatchlings will remain underground for 10–12 months. Diet includes a wide variety of invertebrates. Not unusual to find them foraging several feet off the ground on tree trunks.


Species appears to be secure in Virginia.

Last updated: February 22, 2021