Northern Red Salamander
Pseudotriton ruber ruber
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.
This salamander has a red or reddish-orange body with rounded, irregularly shaped black spots scattered across its back. Its grows to 4 to 7 inches in length and has smooth, scale-less skin. It has yellow eyes. Its front limbs have four toes while its hind limbs have five toes.
This salamander eats worms, insects and spiders. It hunts for prey during and after rain storms, especially at night.
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 to 3 years, living in small, rocky streams and cool, still ponds. Northern red salamanders can live up to 20 years.
Did You Know?
- The northern red salamander is typically found on land in summer, hiding under rocks, logs, bark and moss in wooded areas. In the winter, they tend to burrow under sediment or leaf litter at the bottom of streams.
- 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
- Field Guide to Maryland’s Salamanders and Newts: Northern Red Salamanders – Maryland Department of Natural Resources
- Northern Red Salamander – Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources
- Animal Diversity Web: Pseudotriton ruber – University of Michigan Museum of Zoology