Text Size: A  A  A

Northern Red Salamander

Pseudotriton ruber ruber

Northern red salamanders live in and around freshwater streams, often hiding near logs, bark, rocks and moss. (Brian Gratwicke/Flickr)
Northern red salamanders live in and around freshwater streams, often hiding near logs, bark, rocks and moss. (Brian Gratwicke/Flickr)

The northern red salamander is a small, reddish amphibian with black, irregularly shaped spots covering its back. It lives in cool freshwater streams and adjacent wooded areas throughout most of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Appearance:

  • Red or reddish-orange body
  • Rounded, irregularly shaped black spots scattered across the back
  • Smooth, scale-less skin
  • Yellow eyes
  • Four toes on the front limbs and five toes on the hind limbs
  • Grows 4-7 inches long

Habitat:

  • Lives in and around clear, cool streams, creeks and springs
  • Typically found on land in summer, hiding under rocks, logs, bark and moss in wooded areas
  • Also burrows under sediment or leaf litter at the bottom of streams, particularly in winter

Range:

  • Lives throughout most of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, from southern New York to Virginia
  • In the Blue Ridge Mountains, a smaller, similarly colored subspecies (the Blue Ridge red salamander) is more dominant

Feeding:

  • Eats worms, insects and spiders
  • Hunts for prey during and after rain storms, especially at night

Predators:

  • Skunks, raccoons and woodland birds prey upon red salamanders

Reproduction and Life Cycle:

  • Courtship between males and females begins in spring and continues through autumn
  • Around October, females lay an average of 70 eggs in hidden areas in and around streams. The eggs attach to the underside of rocks by a jelly-like stalk.
  • Eggs hatch in early winter. Young salamanders remain in a larval stage for 2-3 years, living in small, rocky streams and cool, still ponds.
  • Can live up to 20 years

Other Facts:

  • The largest northern red salamander ever discovered measured 7 1/8 inches long.
  • A salamander’s projectile tongue can extend and return to its mouth in just 11 milliseconds!
  • Salamanders are excellent indicators of stream health because they are very sensitive to stressors such as pollution, deforestation, stream erosion and mine drainage.

Sources and Additional Information:




Click tabs to swap between type and habitat.

410 Severn Avenue / Suite 112
Annapolis, Maryland 21403
Tel: (800) YOUR-BAY / Fax: (410) 267-5777
Directions to the Bay Program Office
Terms of Use | Privacy Policy
©2012 Chesapeake Bay Program | All Rights Reserved