Seal Salamander

Fact File

Scientific Name: Desmognathus monticola

Classification: Amphibian

Size: Up to 5 inches

Distribution: This species occurs in the western half of the state where they inhabit stream and seep margins. They are typically found under cover either in or along the margins of the water by day, and emerge at night to feed on invertebrates or smaller salamanders.

Identifying Characteristics

Seal Salamanders are gray to light brown, with dark marks that resemble “leopard spotting” or a reticulated pattern, although they may be absent on large adults. The belly is lighter colored with “salt and pepper” small white and black speckling that may be absent down the very center. The first third of the tail is round in cross section and last two-thirds laterally compressed and keeled.

Did You Know?

Desmognathus salamanders lay their eggs under objects in flowing water, so they can be oxygenated.

Role in the Web of Life

Mating occurs in the fall and spring. Females attach their eggs to rocks in the stream bed and have been found attending the eggs until they hatch in late summer. Larvae metamorphose the following summer.


Species appears to be secure in Virginia.

Last updated: February 22, 2021