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Northern Pygmy Salamander

Fact File

Scientific Name: Desmognathus organi

Classification: Amphibian

Conservation Status:

Size: Up to 2 inches

Identifying Characteristics

This small salamander is red brown to copper, with black chevrons down the back and a narrowly rounded snout. The tail is round in cross section. Belly is flesh colored.


This species occurs at high elevation sites (3,500–5,000+ ft.) in Grayson, Smyth, and Washington counties, usually in spruce-fir forests. This is the most terrestrial species of Desmognathus and often found far from water.

Did You Know?

The Northern Pygmy Salamander is the smallest salamander in Virginia.

Role in the Web of Life

Mating occurs in the fall and spring with the female laying clusters of eggs attached to rocks in seeps and streams where water will flow over the eggs, and sites where flowing water is not available, in underground retreats at depths up to 12 inches. Females remain with eggs until they hatch. Shortly before hatching, embryos absorb their gills and there is no aquatic larval stage. They forage late at night (often in trees) on a variety of invertebrates.


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

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.