Southern Zigzag Salamander

Fact File

Scientific Name: Plethodon ventralis

Classification: Amphibian

Conservation Status:

Size: Up to 3.5 inches

Distribution: In Virginia, this species is known to occur only in Scott and Washington counties. Found primarily in hardwood forests under rocks, logs and other ground cover. During warmer months they often retreat to cooler underground habitats, including crevices in cave floors and walls.

Identifying Characteristics

The body is typically brownish to dark gray, but can be highly variable in both color and pattern. Individuals may have a wavy dorsal stripe that extends onto the tail or no stripe at all. The sides have light flecks. A pale reddish-orange patch occurs around the shoulder. Belly is a mix of orange, red, black and white specks. Snout is blunt.

Did You Know?

Although this species bypasses the aquatic larval stage like other Plethodon salamanders, it is not uncommon to find hatchlings with remnant gill buds.

Role in the Web of Life

Breeding occurs in both spring and fall with females laying 1–10 eggs, which she will guard until they hatch approximately 3 months later.


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

Last updated: February 22, 2021