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23 Vibrant Salamanders in Pennsylvania

There are twenty-three (23) species of salamanders in the state of Pennsylvania. There are salamanders of different families: lungless salamanders, mole and Pacific giant salamanders, aquatic pedomorphic salamanders, giant salamanders and true salamanders and newts.

Salamanders are chordate animals in the class Amphibia. Most possess four legs (tetrapods) and all are ectothermic (cold-blooded). This means that they are not able to regulate their internal body temperature.

Their bodily temperature is based on their environment. As amphibians, salamanders live in a variety of habitats. Some live underground (are fossorial), some in freshwater sources (are aquatic) and yet others on land (are terrestrial).

Salamanders resemble lizards in their appearance. Most have slender bodies, blunt noses or snouts, moist skin which lacks scales, short limbs, four digits on the hind limbs, five digits on their forelimbs and long tails.

While these features apply to most animals in the family of salamanders, certain species are slightly different in form. Some have only forelimbs, less digits or warty skin. These amphibians are mostly found in the Holarctic realm.

Most commonly called newts, salamanders come in various lengths, from minute species to giant ones. They have the ability to regenerate damaged or lost limbs and some other parts of their bodies.

As a mechanism to protect themselves from predators, some salamanders contain a destructive toxin known as tetrodoxin. For this reason, they tend to move slowly and have brightly colored skin (although some have drab colors on their skin).

Larger salamanders may also eat smaller conspecifics (other individuals of the same species) or heterospecifics (other salamanders of different species). Their most common predators are raccoons, skunks, snakes and turtles.

While salamanders tend to have brightly colored dorsal skin (the skin on their backs) to alert terrestrial animals of their toxic presence, their ventral skin (the skin on their flip side, i.e their bellies) is light in color to avoid aquatic predators.

Read further to learn about the twenty-three (23) species of salamanders in Pennsylvania, their geographic location or range, habitat, physical characteristics, behavior and additional adaptations against predation, if any, at adulthood.

Species of Salamanders in Pennsylvania

1. Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander

Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander (Desmognathus ochrophaeus) curled up on a rock
Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander (Desmognathus ochrophaeus) curled up on a rock – source
  • Family: Plethodontidae (lungless salamanders)
  • Scientific Name: Desmognathus ochrophaeus
  • Other Names: N/A
  • Adult Size: 7 to 11 cm (2.76 to 4.33 in)
  • Lifespan: about 5.3 years in captivity, up to 20 years

Allegheny Mountain dusky salamanders are found in Canada and the United States. Some states and regions they occur in within these countries are: Georgia, Kentucky, New York, Pennsylvania, Quebec, Tennessee and Virginia.

They inhabit forests and woodlands, preferring to be around the streams and rivers in this biome. They may be found underneath wet rocks, near springs, around seepage rivers, under stones and beneath wet leaves and logs.

Before, Allegheny Mountain dusky salamanders were lumped together with four other species and called mountain dusky salamanders. The four others are Blue Ridge dusky, Carolina Mountain, Cumberland dusky and Ocoee salamanders.

Salamanders of this species have moderately long, well developed legs, slender bodies, a fold of skin behind their eyes, sharp, pointed teeth and tapered tails. They come in different colors, sizes and patterns.

Although most are plainly colored, some other individuals have bright hues on their skin. A light colored line runs from each of their eyes to the bottom of their jaws. Another straight light colored one extends down the back and tail.

This second stripe may be brown, gray, olive, orange, red or yellow in color. A light grayish brown band is also visible on their bodies and the sides of their tails are black in color. The juveniles are slightly different in appearance.

There is only little sexual dimorphism in this species. Males are on average larger in size than females, with darker body colors and a more curved jaw margin than females. They also lose their vomerine teeth when they get to a certain size.

The females are smaller and lighter colored. They also have teeth. Allegheny Mountain dusky salamanders are nocturnal, being most active at night. On some dark and humid days, individuals may be active.

Like many other salamanders, this species is able to lose its tail when threatened by predators and regenerate it. Their broken tails then wiggle and move around to distract the predator and make some escape time. The salamanders are not poisonous but they are foul-tasting to predators.

2. Blue-spotted Salamander

Blue Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma laterale) being held in hand
Blue Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma laterale) being held in hand – source
  • Family: Ambystomatidae (mole and Pacific giant salamanders)
  • Scientific Name: Ambystoma laterale
  • Other Names: N/A
  • Adult Size: 7.6 to 14 cm (3 to 5.5 in)
  • Lifespan: N/A

The blue-spotted salamander is a common species in the state of Pennsylvania. It is also found in other US states such as Connecticut, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Vermont and Wisconsin.

Although the salamander is native and endemic to North America, it is not found only in the US. In Canada, it lives in the provinces of Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Quebec.

It inhabits both deciduous and coniferous forests. However, salamanders of this species occur mostly in moist forests and woodlands which have sandy soil. It lives on land, above the ground, even in the warmer parts of the year.

Blue-spotted salamanders have slender bodies and resemble another mole salamander species, the Jefferson salamander. However, blue-spotted salamanders are typically smaller in size, have narrower snouts and are darker in color.

They have a long tail that makes up about 40% of their entire body length. This tail is broad and oval in shape at the base (the part directly connected to or extending from the body) but compressed towards the tip or tapering end.

These slim salamanders have four feet with relatively long digits. Their common name is as result of the bluish white spotting or flecking on the sides of their trunks and tails which is also sometimes visible on their backs.

Dorsally, a blue-spotted salamander is typically grayish black to bluish black in color. As stated above, its lower sides may also have large bluish white flecks or spots. The species’ ventral surface usually features some flecking and lighter than the dorsum in color, although it is mostly black.

Some sexual dimorphism exists in this species. This appears in their size and the appearance of their tails. On average, the males tend to be a little smaller in size than the females, and they have a longer, more flattened tail.

Females are larger in size, with shorter tails in comparison to the length of their bodies. The species breeds in the spring as they start to migrate to breeding ponds and pools in warm evenings, especially in high humidity.

Blue-spotted salamanders are primarily nocturnal. They stay undercover and out of direct sunlight in the daytime to avoid being detected. In the summer and autumn, they are mostly found in damp forests and they move about to look for food in the nighttime.

Most salamander species are poisonous and so is this one. It has granular glands, which are most concentrated on its tail. These glands produce a milky and toxic liquid and secrete this poison when the animal is threatened.

It holds its tail up and curved over its body when it is startled. Predators that attack its tail get the sticky poison in their mouths. In addition to the toxins this species produces, it is small and its size enables the salamander to hide well from potential attackers.

The blue-spotted salamander is now threatened due to the loss of wetlands and the destruction of forests. There is no evidence, however, of decline in its populations as of yet. It is more tolerant to human disturbances than other salamander species.

3. Common Mudpuppy

Common MudPuppy (Necturus maculosus) held in two hands
Common MudPuppy (Necturus maculosus) held in two hands – source
  • Family: Proteidae (aquatic, pedomorphic salamanders)
  • Scientific Name: Necturus maculosus
  • Other Names: Mudpuppy
  • Adult Size: 20.3 to 43.2 cm (8 to 17 in)
  • Lifespan: 11 years on average in the wild, up to 30 years in captivity

The common mudpuppy is a species of salamanders widely found in the eastern part of North America. Individuals live in states and provinces of the United States and Canada such as Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Manitoba, New York, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Quebec, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

Mudpuppies are entirely aquatic, with two subspecies with different coloration and geographic distributions. They live in several permanent aquatic habitats like bays, muddy canals, streams (both fast and sluggish), reservoirs and lakes.

Salamanders of this species have four digits on each of their limbs, bushy external gills, and a laterally compressed tail. They have a dark stripe on the side of their head that passes through the eye and may run the side of their bodies.

Dorsally, their skin may be colored in any shade from rusty brown to gray and even black. Bluish black spots tend to be scattered on their skin. Ventrally, the skin is usually brightly colored, in such colors like brown, gray, white or yellow, and sometimes there are dark spots on this ventral surface.

The subspecies more frequently known as the common mudpuppy has more of a rusty brown to grey dorsal color. Its underside is usually gray in color and may be unspotted, sparsely spotted or densely spotted.

The other subspecies, known as the Red River mudpuppy, Louisiana mudpuppy or waterdog, has a yellowish brown to tan dorsal color and dark dorsal stripes occasionally. Its venter is light colored and spotless in the middle but the sides have large dark blotches running along them.

Mudpuppies are nocturnal, actively foraging at nighttime and retreating to burrows or under large logs of wood, rocks and other objects for cover in the daytime. They do not face many threats to their population except pollution and are not toxic.

4. Eastern Tiger Salamander

Eastern tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum) found in woods on ground close up
Eastern tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum) found in woods on ground close up
  • Family: Ambystomatidae
  • Scientific Name: Ambystoma tigrinum
  • Other Names: Tiger salamander
  • Adult Size: 17 to 33 cm (6.7 to 13 in)
  • Lifespan: up to 16 years in the wild, 10.3 to 25 years in captivity

Eastern tiger salamanders are found in Canada, Mexico and the US. In the United States, they occur in Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.

Habitats of choice for them are lowland deciduous forests, coniferous forests, open fields, bushy regions, alpine and subalpine meadows, grasslands, semideserts and deserts with sandy soil. They are rarely seen in streams.

The eastern tiger salamander is the largest terrestrial or land dwelling salamander in North America. It is also the species in this region with the largest distribution or widest range. It is less dependent on the forests than most members of its genus.

It possesses a stout, thick body, small, round eyes and a wide head. Its dorsal skin is typically dark brown to grayish black and it has yellow (or less commonly tan or olive green) blotches, spots or patterns on it.

Patterning, spotting or blotch shape, size and position are not set or fixed. They may be used to identify the salamander by origin. Its ventral skin is typically lighter in color, usually yellowish or olive, with irregular pale blotches on it.

Sexual differences exist in the morphology of this species. The males are on average longer or larger than females. Their tails are also more compressed, their hindlegs stockier and longer, and their vent area swollen in breeding seasons.

Eastern tiger salamanders are nocturnal and fossorial, digging into the ground and making their own burrows rather than living in those made by other animals. They are terricolous and have adaptations for swimming also. They are also deft, toxic predators.

5. Four-toed Salamander

Four-toed Salamander (Hemidactylium scutatum) close up on a log
Four-toed Salamander (Hemidactylium scutatum) close up on a log
  • Family: Plethodontidae
  • Scientific Name: Hemidactylium scutatum
  • Other Names: N/A
  • Adult Size: 5 to 10.2 cm (1.97 to 4.02 in)
  • Lifespan: 5.5 years on average while in captivity

Another species of salamanders in Pennsylvania is the four-toed salamander. Its geographic range includes the southeastern part of Canada (like Nova Scotia), the Gulf of Mexico and, towards the west, US states like Florida, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Virginia and Wisconsin.

It requires suitable breeding marshlands, swamplands or wetlands within or adjacent to mature forests. It prefers mesic (having or characterized by moderate or a well-balanced supply of moisture) forests with dense canopy.

The essence of this canopy is to cover the salamander and preserve its body moisture as it is a plethodontid or lungless species. The animal may be found beneath woody debris, in vernal pools, ponds, bogs, shallow marshes, or other bodies of water which do have fish in them.

Dorsally, the color of this species is usually a rusty brown color or grayish brown color, with black and bluish speckles on the surface. The sides of this salamander are typically grayish in color.

Four-toed salamanders have four digits on their hind legs, with long tails with make up about 57% of the entire lengths of their bodies. There is some level of sexual dimorphism evident in this species.

The females have rounded snouts or noses, have smaller teeth and are about 15% longer than their male conspecifics. On the other hand, their sexually active conspecifics have more squared or abridged snouts, enlarged premaxillary teeth and shorter bodies.

These salamanders have a number of mechanisms put in place against predation. Firstly, if they are threatened, attacked or molested by humans or predators they curl up, hide their heads under their tails and stay very still.

They may at times take up some aggressive or intimidating posture by lifting their head high and swaying their tails. Yet another defense mechanism is the mild, distasteful toxin that they secrete from their skin and spray while swaying their tails.

Four-toed salamanders also show tail autotomy. When under attack, in a bid to distract their predators, individuals of this species can voluntarily detach their tails, and the detached tail continues to wiggle, possibly giving the animal a chance to escape. Their toxins are completely harmless to humans.

6. Green Salamander

Green Salamander (Aneides aeneus) being held in hand
Green Salamander (Aneides aeneus) being held in hand – source
  • Family: Plethodontidae
  • Scientific Name: Aneides aeneus
  • Other Names: N/A
  • Adult Size: 8.3 to 12.7 cm (3.25 to 5 in)
  • Lifespan: N/A

Green salamanders occur but are rarely seen in Tennessee, with their range in the state limited to the Cumberland Mountain, Cumberland Plateau and Highland Rim. Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and South Carolina are other states they occur in.

They are so difficult to see because they hide in crevices oftentimes. They live on limestone and sandstone rocks, on cliffs and in other rocky areas which are moist but not wet.

Lichen is a plant that grows as crusty or bushy patches and growths on bare ground, rocky surfaces or tree trunks. Owing to the fact that green salamanders live on the lichen-covered rocky surfaces, they have a color pattern to match it.

The base color of their dorsal skin is black but it has yellow green patterning resembling lichen. They also have long legs and flattened bodies for fitting into crevices, and the tips of their toes are square to facilitate their life on cliffs.

In many of the states which it occurs, the green salamander is listed as a threatened or endangered species. It is nocturnal, showing the most activity at night when it is cooler and more humid. It has poisonous skin.

7. Hellbender

Eatern Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis) crawling on creek bottom
Eatern Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis) crawling on creek bottom
  • Family: Cryptobranchidae (giant salamanders)
  • Scientific Name: Cryptobranchus alleganiensis
  • Other Names: Devil dog, hellbender salamander, mud cat, snot otter
  • Adult Size: 29.5 to 74 cm (11.6 to 29 in); 45.4 cm (17.9 in) on average
  • Lifespan: 12 to 15 years (but up to 30 years) in the wild; 6 to 25 years (but up to 29 years) in captivity

This is the largest species of aquatic salamanders in all North America. They are endemic to the USA, in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and some other states.

Hellbenders are completely aquatic which prefer to live in temperate freshwater streams and rivers. These water bodies usually are fast-flowing, with clear water and a rocky bottom (substrate) for shelter and protection from predators.

Salamanders of this species have flat, broad heads and flat bodies with loose folds of skin. They also have short noses. Other aquatic salamanders have eyelids and feathered gill slits but these ones do not.

Their hindlegs have five digits on each one while the forelegs have four digits on each. Between these toes and fingers, the skin is webbed. Both the fore and hind limbs in this species are small and stubby.

Hellbenders have very muscular tails and deep brown or black dorsal coloration. Occasionally, individuals are found with dark orange spots on their backs or along their lighter colored ventral surfaces.

There are some albino and red variants of this species. The sexes do not show any sexual dimorphism. Larger individuals tend to prey on smaller conspecifics. Their powerful tails are propulsive and they can secrete irritants from their skin if disturbed but they are not poisonous.

8. Jefferson Salamander

Jefferson Salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum) on a mossy log
Jefferson Salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum) on a mossy log – source
  • Family: Ambystomatidae
  • Scientific Name: Ambystoma jeffersonianum
  • Other Names: N/A
  • Adult Size: 10.7 to 21 cm (4.2 to 8.3 in)
  • Lifespan: 6 years or longer on average

The Jefferson salamander is found in the US and Canada. It is found in the states and provinces of Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont and West Virginia.

Individuals of this species prefer to inhabit upland forests and relatively undisturbed deciduous woodlands. They are especially found in under debris in moist, well-drained upland forests, swamps and ponds of the deciduous forest regions.

Jefferson salamanders are long, with slender bodies, long digits and wide snouts. They possess features characteristic of ambystomatid species, including prominent costal grooves, and short, rounded heads, but instead of stout, robust limbs and toes, theirs are way more slender.

Dorsal coloration among these amphibians is typically dark brown, brownish gray or slate gray. Bluish flecks or speckles may be scattered along their limbs, tails, backs (occasionally) and the lower sides of their bodies, complementing their dorsal color.

Younger salamanders tend to have more obvious or apparent speckling than the older ones, and these patterns may even disappear totally in their old age. Their ventral surface is lighter in color, usually gray or a pale silvery color.

Jefferson salamanders have laterally compressed tails that end up almost as long as their entire bodies. Females are in general on the larger side than the males. There is some sexual dimorphism in this species.

In the breeding season, the vents of males appear swollen compared to the females’ vents. Males appear more slender than the females which carry their eggs. These males also possess longer and more laterally compressed tails.

However, both sexes have lighter skin and more conspicuous markings in the breeding season. When this period is over, both sexes then become darker and have less conspicuous markings.

This nocturnal species is preyed on by several animals including owls, raccoons, snakes and striped skunks. It has been observed displaying several defensive behaviors when attacked, in addition to its anti predator mechanisms.

Individuals raise, undulate or lash their tails, take up defensive body postures, flee the area, bite their attackers, and, from glands in the tail area of their skin, produce toxic secretions. They may tuck their heads under their tails and they also show tail autotomy.

9. Long-tailed Salamander

Longtail Salamander (Eurycea longicauda) held in hand
Longtail Salamander (Eurycea longicauda) held in hand – source
  • Family: Plethodontidae
  • Scientific Name: Eurycea longicauda
  • Other Names: Longtail salamander, Eurycea longicauda longicauda, dark-sided salamander (Eurycea longicauda melanopleura), three-lined salamander (Eurycea longicauda guttolineata)
  • Adult Size: 10 to 20 cm (3.9 to 7.9 in)
  • Lifespan: 5 to 10 years in the wild

Endemic to the USA, yet another species of salamanders in Pennsylvania is the long-tailed salamander. This one is found in several states like Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia.

Within this area, the salamander may be spotted in streams, limestone seeps, springs, caves, abandoned mines, ponds and wet shale banks in its larval (aquatic) stage and on the land surrounding streams at adulthood (terrestrial).

Individuals have large eyes, slender bodies and very short fore and hind legs. Dark dashes or dots may be seen on their backs and they may make up a broad band. They have a long and slender tail with dark irregularly shaped stripes on it.

Dorsally, this species may be any shade of color from yellow to red but they are typically yellow. Their tails are especially long, making up about 60% of their total body length and giving them their common name.

The ventrum of long-tailed salamanders is usually light yellow to cream. It may be unspotted or may be spotted in gray or light brown. No sexual dimorphism is noticed in this species as both male and female individuals look alike.

Long-tailed salamanders are also nocturnal, being the most active after sunset on humid or rainy days. Three subspecies are recognized in this species: long-tailed salamanders, three-lined salamanders, and dark-sided salamanders.

Three-lined salamanders may be yellow or bronze in color and have l three dark lines running along their bodies and tails. Dark-sided salamanders have two dark lines along the sides of their bodies and tails, with a lighter one on the back.

They are not poisonous but move quickly and can easily run for cover when threatened. Another way they respond to attacks is to display a defensive posture with an elevated tail that autotomizes (breaks off) when they are handled.

10. Marbled Salamander

Marbled Salamander (Ambystoma opacum) being held in hand for picture
Marbled Salamander (Ambystoma opacum) being held in hand for picture – source
  • Family: Ambystomatidae
  • Scientific Name: Ambystoma opacum
  • Other Names: Banded salamander
  • Adult Size: 8.9 to 11.4 cm (3.5 to 4.5 in)
  • Lifespan: 3.5 to 4 years in the wild

The marbled salamander is a salamander species endemic to the United States and widespread in the eastern area. It is found in Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and other states.

Individuals live to live in or around moist environments, like damp forests near ponds and streams. Although they may be found around dry areas, they never go too far from a water source.

Marbled salamanders are stocky and broad-headed but small in size. The species is one of the smaller species in both its genus and its entire biological family. Sexual dimorphism occurs between the males and females of this species.

Their other common name is owed to the fact that they have cross bands across their heads, backs and tails. The bands typically are white or light gray in color. The difference in the sexes is evident in the color of these cross bands.

Sexual dimorphism in marbled salamanders is also evident in size. The males tend to be smaller on average than females, with their own cross bands silvery white. On the other hand, females are larger and their cross bands are silvery gray.

During the breeding season, the cross bands on the male salamanders’ backs turn very white and the glands around their cloaca swell up. Salamanders of this species generally have short tails with black sides and undersides.

The marbled salamander is one of the peculiar salamander species that do not breed in water. Individuals prefer to breed in dried up ditches, ponds and streams.

They are adapted for swimming but are terricolous (fossorial and terrestrial: they live on the ground or in the soil) and nocturnal. Marbled salamanders have poison glands in their tails to protect themselves from predators.

11. Mud Salamander

Midland Mud Salamander (Pseudotriton montanus diastictus) hiding in a large pile of leaves on the forest floor
Midland Mud Salamander (Pseudotriton montanus diastictus) hiding in a large pile of leaves on the forest floor – source
  • Family: Plethodontidae
  • Scientific Name: Pseudotriton montanus
  • Other Names: N/A
  • Adult Size: 7.5 to 19.5 cm (3 to 7.7 in)
  • Lifespan: up to 15 years in captivity

Endemic to eastern states of the US like Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, the mud salamander is another salamander species in Pennsylvania.

It is commonly found living around bodies of freshwater in the region, such as marshes, low wetlands, springs and streams. Because they are burrowing as well as land animals, they prefer water sources with muddy regions for burrowing.

These salamanders have short, stout bodies, relatively short limbs (compared to body size) and short tails. The dorsal skin in this species may be any color from reddish brown to red and black spots dot this surface.

Ventrally, the mud salamander is usually light or pinkish orange, with or without spotting depending on its subspecies. It has a short tail which averages about 40% of the entire length of its body.

The spots on the dorsal surface of this species are irregular and widely spaced. As they grow old, individuals tend to get darker and these spots are no longer as pronounced or  prominent as they were in the younger years.

Four subspecies of red salamanders are currently accepted: the eastern mud salamander, the midland mud salamander, the Gulf coast mud salamander and the rusty mud salamander.

Eastern mud salamanders are large in size and usually have spotted bellies. They occur along the east coast, their range being from New Jersey down to Georgia. Midland mud salamanders are brightly colored, the brightest subspecies.

Individuals are crimson red, have less dense dots on their backs and have no spotting on their undersides. They are distributed in the region west of the Appalachians, found in Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Gulf coast mud salamanders tend to be smaller in size and more slender than the two subspecies explained above. They have unspotted venters and are found in the eastern part of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and west Florida.

Rusty mud salamanders are smaller in size and more darkly colored than other subspecies. Spotting is absent on their backs but may be seen on their tails. Their bellies are spotted and they are found in southern Georgia and northern Florida.

Mud salamanders resemble and sometimes occur in similar geographical areas to another species, the red salamander. Their eye color and spot patterns play major roles in their identification.

There is some sexual dimorphism in this species as females tend to be about 20% larger in size than males. They are also terricolous, living around water bodies and burrowing into the soil. They produce toxins in the skin around their tails.

12. Northern Dusky Salamander

Northern Dusky Salamander (Desmognathus fuscus) on someone's hand in Raymond, New Hampshire, USA
Northern Dusky Salamander (Desmognathus fuscus) on someone’s hand – source
  • Family: Plethodontidae
  • Scientific Name: Desmognathus fuscus
  • Other Names: Dusky salamander
  • Adult Size: 6.4 to 14.2 cm (2.5 to 5.6 in)
  • Lifespan: estimated to be around 10 years

Northern dusky salamanders are found in Canada and the United States. They occur in Indiana, Kentucky, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Quebec, Tennessee, Virginia and other states and provinces.

They love to live in forests or partially wooded moist areas, including small streams, along stream banks, springs, river bottomlands, brooks and at the mouth of caves. Although they are terrestrial, they never stay in strictly terrestrial areas; they prefer instead to live around water bodies.

This species consists of small but robust salamanders with short, knife-like tails that make up less than half of their whole body length. The bottom of these tails may be bright chestnut, gray or olive in color.

Dorsal coloration in northern dusky salamanders is usually any shade of color from brown or reddish brown to gray or olive. Markings can also be noticed in the dorsal surface and sides in a slightly darker color.

Underneath the salamander, its belly is off-white or whitish and has some dark spots on it. Like other members of its biological family, this species lacks lungs. It is instead able to absorb oxygen through tissues in the skin, mouth and throat.

Slight sexual dimorphism is evident in this species with males being longer than females from snout to tail. Northern dusky salamanders are nocturnal, fossorial and terricolous in their adult life. They are not poisonous to humans.

13. Northern Ravine Salamander

Ravine Salamander (Plethodon electromorphus) on moss
Ravine Salamander (Plethodon electromorphus) on moss – source
  • Family: Plethodontidae 
  • Scientific Name: Plethodon electromorphus
  • Other Names: “worm with legs”
  • Adult Size: 6.5 to 14.3 cm (2.56 to 5.63 in)
  • Lifespan: N/A

The Northern ravine salamander is native and endemic to the continent of North America. It has been observed only in the United States, within the states of Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

In terms of habitat, the species prefers moist ones. It is a terrestrial kind of salamander, found under logs, stumps, leaves, and rocks in wooded valleys and ravines. Individuals have also been found dwelling very close to running streams.

Northern ravine salamanders are small, with their legs short and set far apart. They have rounded tails which are usually as long as their bodies. They owe their other common name to their worm-like appearance.

This appearance is due to their very short legs and very long bodies. They resemble northern zigzag and red-backed salamanders in both body shape and size although they have a more work-like look.

A salamander of this kind can be distinguished from similar ones named above by its lack of a dorsal stripe and the color of its dorsum. Its back is usually colored a grayish black or dark brown.

Both its back and underbelly are uniformly dark, with only the area around the throat observed to be a lighter color. On the salamander’s dorsal and ventral surfaces, it possesses many spots. Such spots could be very dark gold, greenish gold or silvery white in color.

The northern ravine salamander is nocturnal, showing activity from dusk till dawn. It is active on the surface mainly in cooler months and is most active during late winter and spring. Whether or not it is poisonous or toxic is unknown.

14. Northern Spring Salamander

Northern Spring Salamander (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus ssp. porphyriticus) on edge of a riverbank
Northern Spring Salamander (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus ssp. porphyriticus) on edge of a riverbank – source
  • Family: Plethodontidae
  • Scientific Name: Gyrinophilus porphyriticus
  • Other Names: Blue Ridge spring salamander, Carolina spring salamander, Kentucky spring salamander, northern spring salamander (subspecies)
  • Adult Size: 12 to 19 cm (4.7 to 7.5 in)
  • Lifespan: up to 18.5 years in captivity; no record in the wild

Besides Pennsylvania, spring salamanders occur in Alabama, Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Tennessee, Quebec, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, Vermont, and other states or provinces within the United States and Canada.

They are found in or around temperate forests, mountains, rivers, streams and caves with certain characteristics. For aquatic habitats, they prefer shaded, low temperature, highly oxygenated headwater springs.

Preferred features in terrestrial habitats include those with shade and objects to hide beneath. These salamanders may be seen in caves or under stones, rocks, fallen trees, other large objects and tree canopies in mature forests.

The head of a spring salamander is flat, with its eyes placed on the side and its nose broad. Its tail is moderately keeled, resembling a sharp knife. Keeled tails are adaptations that enable salamanders to maneuver better when swimming.

On its back, the salamander has orange, pinkish orange or salmon skin with a slightly brown or yellow tint. This skin is covered in small black or dark colored spots and flecks with a red tint.

There is a ridge that extends from the eye to the nostril of this salamander species. It is usually bordered with a light line and sometimes has a dark line beneath it. Females tend to be slightly larger in size than males.

Four subspecies exist: G. p. danielsi (Blue Ridge spring salamander), G. p. dunni (Carolina spring salamander), G. p. duryi (Kentucky spring salamander) and G. p. porphyriticus (northern spring salamander).

Spring salamanders are nocturnal, terricolous and natatorial. This means they are lost active at night and can live on land, underground and in water. They have a few mechanisms in place to avoid or repel predators.

Activity at night is one, the aim being to avoid attracting the attention of predators to themselves. Smaller ones hunt and eat during the day but return to shelter at night because they are at higher risk of predation.

When threatened, these salamanders assume defensive positions and postures with the aim of scaring their attackers away. They also secrete poisonous substances that are toxic to predators.

15. Northern Two-lined Salamander

Northern Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea bislineata) being held in hand
Northern Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea bislineata) being held in hand – source
  • Family: Plethodontidae 
  • Scientific Name: Eurycea bislineata
  • Other Names: N/A
  • Adult Size: 6.1 to 12.1 cm (2.4 to 4.8 in)
  • Lifespan: N/A

Northern two-lined salamanders are also native and endemic to North America. They reside in Canada and the United States. In Canada, they are found in the provinces of New Brunswick, Newfoundland & Labrador, Ontario and Quebec.

Within the United States, they have been found in the regions of Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Washington D.C. and West Virginia. 

They have been known to live underneath rocks and logs which are situated around small, rocky streams or seeps. They also reside along forest floors or beneath submerged rocks, debris and fallen leaves in streams.

Occurring mostly along stream banks, they are sometimes found away from water sources and prefer woodland or open habitats. Within the colder winter months, springs, streams or water laden soil (with temperatures above freezing) also house them.

Northern two-lined salamanders have small, slender bodies, with a broad stripe that stretches from their head to their tail. The stripe is bordered on both sides by narrow black lines that may separate into dashes around the tail.

This stripe could be any color, usually any shade from yellow to greenish yellow or tan. A row of dark spots may also be seen in the middle of this stripe. The dorsal skin could be yellow or feature greenish yellow mottling. The venter is also yellow.

Differences exist between male and female salamanders of this species, although it is more conspicuous within the breeding season. Males tend to have whitish lower eyelid glands, a distinct mental gland on their chins and cirri in the reproductive period. 

While females have bicuspid teeth, males have unicuspid teeth which are relatively longer than the teeth of females. Males have premaxillary teeth and when the breeding season ends, their unicuspid teeth are replaced with the typical bicuspid ones. Females are usually larger in size.

The northern two-lined salamander is nocturnal, showing the most activity after rains. It has a number of mechanisms against the attacks of predators. It typically stays still and remains immobile should the body of another animal touch it.

If the animal’s tongue touches it, it may then run or jump. It is also able to drop its tail and proceed to run away while the dropped tail continues to move. This species is not poisonous or toxic to humans.

16. Red Salamander

Southern Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber vioscai) being held in hand
Southern Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber vioscai) being held in hand – source
  • Family: Plethodontidae
  • Scientific Name: Pseudotriton ruber
  • Other Names: Northern red salamander
  • Adult Size: 11 to 18 cm (4.3 to 7.1 in)
  • Lifespan: up to 20 years in captivity

Within the US, red salamanders are found in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and other states.

They occur in both aquatic and terrestrial habitats, including caves, mountains, rivers and streams. They may be seen in or around cold, slow-moving streams and springs, or under logs, stones and leaf litter depending on the season.

Dorsal coloration in this species is bright and it ranges from reddish orange to red. This dorsal skin also features black spots. When they grow older, the salamanders’ bright dorsal skin may change to purplish brown and feature larger spots.

Red salamanders also have short tails, stout bodies, yellow eyes and short limbs. Their ventral surface is typically pink or red in color and black spots can be seen on it. Currently, four subspecies of this salamander exist.

P. r. ruber is known as the northern red salamander and with a maximum total length of 18 cm is the largest subspecies by body size. It is typically red or reddish orange and has black flecks on its chin.

P. r. nitidus, the Blue Ridge red salamander, reaches 12 cm in length. Its chin and the back part of its tail lack spotting. P. r. schencki is known as the black-chinned salamander. It has heavy black flecking on its chin and may be up to 15 cm in total length.

P. r. vioscai, the southern red salamander, usually has purple brown dorsal skin, tiny white flecks on its nose, and fused dorsal spots. Female red salamanders are larger than males but the sexes look alike otherwise.

Red salamanders are nocturnal. When threatened, they curl their bodies in a defensive stance while protecting their head underneath their tail. They also partially mimic the efts of the very poisonous eastern newt by aposematic coloration.

Aposematic coloration is bright skin coloration that serves as a warning to potential predators that a particular animal is toxic, aggressive, foul tasting or smelling, venomous or with sharp spines. This helps them avoid predators.

17. Red-backed Salamander

Eastern Red-backed Salamander (Plethodon cinereus) out in the woods near a cave
Eastern Red-backed Salamander (Plethodon cinereus) out in the woods near a cave
  • Family: Plethodontidae
  • Scientific Name: Plethodon cinereus
  • Other Names: Eastern red-backed salamander, northern redback salamander, northern red-backed salamander
  • Adult Size: 5.7 to 12.7 cm (2.24 to 5 in)
  • Lifespan: 25 years in captivity on average; about 9.8 to 32 years in the wild, like other plethodontids

Red-backed salamanders are found in the North American countries of Canada and the United States. Within Canada, they are found in the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Quebec.

In the United States, they live in Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

These salamanders are quite common in Wisconsin. They are terrestrial, living mostly in deciduous forests throughout the geographic range they are found in. They may be found in leaf litter, under rocks, beneath logs, or in small burrows.

Red-backed salamanders love to and must live in a moist environment, because as a plethodontid species, they do not have lungs and so require their skin to be moist to aid respiration. Soil pH also affects them; they are negatively affected by highly acidic soils.

They have long, quite slender bodies. Dorsally, their bodies are slightly flattened, but on the sides, it is well rounded. The tails are nearly circular from their base to their tip. They can regenerate and are usually a uniform dark gray color.

Each hind limb of a salamander of this species has four digits on it, and each fore limb has four digits. Some slight webbing may be seen on the five digits of the animal’s hind legs. It has a fairly large mouth but small tongue, with the angle of the jaw behind the eye.

Two different color phases exist in this species. A “redback” phase features the salamander with a gray or black body and a red or orange stripe running down its back, from its neck even till its tail.

The stripe may also be light gray, dull yellow, pink or brick red in color, likely with small black flecks. A second “leadback” phase features individuals that lack the mid dorsal stripe, have lighter heads and legs.

In both phases, the dorsal surface is entirely black or gray in color. The salamander’s belly is mottled in both white and gray. The sides are dark gray or black, becoming lighter and mottled toward the belly.

Not much differences exist between males and females as both sexes look alike in this species. However, males are on average slightly smaller than females in size. They can also be better distinguished from females in the breeding season.

In this period, they have enlarged premaxillary teeth, swollen snouts and proportionally longer legs. They also have black testes. The red-backed salamander shows tail autotomy.

This means that the animal is able to drop all or part of its tail when trying to escape from a predator and grow a new, lighter colored one afterwards). It is also toxic, especially the eastern subspecies.

18. Red-spotted Newt

Red Spotted Eastern Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) in stream on leaf
Red Spotted Eastern Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) in stream on leaf – source
  • Family: Salamandridae (true salamanders and newts)
  • Scientific Name: Notophthalmus viridescens
  • Other Names: Broken-striped newt, central newt, Eastern newt, Peninsula newt
  • Adult Size: 6.5 to 12.7 cm (2.6 to 5 in)
  • Lifespan: 12 to 15 years in the wild

Red-spotted newts are widely distributed in North America, in the USA and Canada. Individuals can be found in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Quebec, Rhode Island, Tennessee and other states or provinces.

For their habitats, these salamanders prefer living in ponds and lakes around thick, submerged vegetation, still, rather undisturbed streams, swamps, woodlands (forests) and ditches (canals, trenches).

Newts of this species go through four stages of development: egg, aquatic larva, red eft and adult. They are terrestrial as red efts and aquatic at the adult stage. Thus, terrestrial and aquatic eastern newts have different physical characteristics.

While red efts may be any shade of color from red-orange to reddish brown, they turn green, olive green, dark brown or yellowish brown dorsally at the adult stage. An adult’s back is usually also spotted in two rows with red or orange dots.

Ventrally, the red-spotted newt is yellow in color. Red efts are typically smaller in size and have granular skin but aquatic adults are larger in size and have very smooth, moist skin. This species shows sexual dimorphism in the mating season.

Males tend to have brighter spots than females as a medium of advertisement. Their spots are also redder, their hind limbs enlarged, their vents swollen and their tails ridged. Black horny scales also develop on their inner thighs and toes.

These salamanders show both diurnal and nocturnal activity. They secrete toxins, hence their bright warning color at the juvenile stage (red eft), and so are not the most suitable for keeping as pets, especially for children.

19. Seal Salamander

Seal Salamander (Desmognathus monticola) close up on wet bank in creek
Seal Salamander (Desmognathus monticola) close up on wet bank in creek
  • Family: Plethodontidae
  • Scientific Name: Desmognathus monticola
  • Other Names: Appalachian dusky salamander
  • Adult Size: 7.62 to 15.24 cm (3 to 6 in)
  • Lifespan: up to 11 years by estimate

The seal salamander is another species of salamanders in Pennsylvania. It also occurs in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

Within its range, it is found in or near freshwater Appalachian streams, in burrows, along the banks of streams and on the faces of wet rocks and stones. It prefers well oxygenated water sources.

The fairly large salamander is robust, with its tail making up about half its body length. The first third of its tail is rounded while the other two thirds are triangular and moderately keeled. The digits on its limbs are horny or darker at the tips.

A seal salamander has contrasting dorsal and ventral colors. Its dorsal surface and sides, even down to the sides of the tail, are light brown to grayish in color. There are round or square spots which are darker, typically black to dark brown.

Its ventrum is usually white to off-white, very pale and seldom with very light, barely visible spots. A line of white spots runs between the limbs. Two populations of this species exist, with different coloration and patterning.

The populations are designated “monticola A”, referring to the individuals in Appalachia and the Appachian Plateau, and “monticola B”, to refer to those south of Alabama. The males are larger and have wider heads than females.

Seal salamanders are nocturnal, emerging from their hiding places in the night to look for food. They rarely leave the vicinity of water and are often referred to, with some other species, as stream salamanders. They are not poisonous to humans.

20. Slimy Salamander

Northern Slimy Salamander (Plethodon glutinosus) held in hand close up
Northern Slimy Salamander (Plethodon glutinosus) held in hand close up – source
  • Family: Plethodontidae
  • Scientific Name: Plethodon glutinosus
  • Other Names: Northern slimy salamander
  • Adult Size: 12 to 17 cm (4.75 to 6.75 in)
  • Lifespan: up to 5.5 years in captivity

In addition to Pennsylvania, northern slimy salamanders can be found in Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. They look strikingly similar to some other species within their genus.

These salamanders typically live in forests, found commonly at the banks of shales, alongside streams and beside gullies or ravines. Within the above states, they are likely to be seen under stones and decaying logs or underground in burrows.

Slimy salamanders are so called because of the slimy, glue-like secretions their skin produces. The secretion is not toxic but only mildly poisonous if it is ingested. After coming in contact with one such salamander, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before using them to do other things.

Individuals of this species typically have black skin that might be covered in silvery white spots, brassy or yellowish specks, or both. They have darker throats and larger, more yellow spots on their backs that distinguish them from like species.

Their undersides could be in many shades of color but are generally lighter than their backs. They also have prominent nasolabial grooves to differentiate them. Males and females look alike but females are slightly larger in size than males.

Slimy salamanders are territorial and abundant (not considered to be endangered or threatened) within their range. They are also motile, occasionally moving from one place to another.

They are nocturnal, with their activity noticed from dusk when they leave their burrows till dawn when they retreat. At times when it is rainy in the day, they can be seen moving around. In droughts, they bury themselves deep underground or stay under rotting logs. They are poisonous.

21. Spotted Salamander

Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) in net
Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) in net – source
  • Family: Ambystomatidae
  • Scientific Name: Ambystoma maculatum
  • Other Names: Yellow-spotted salamander
  • Adult Size: 15 to 25 cm (5.8 to 9.8 in)
  • Lifespan: 20 to 30 years in the wild (if they survive before transforming and leaving their ponds; only about 10% do); about 25 years in captivity

The spotted salamander is a common species in eastern US and Canada. It is found in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maine, Minnesota, New Brunswick, North Carolina, Nova Scotia, Ohio, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Quebec, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont.

It occurs along rivers in bottomland deciduous forests, or in upland mixed or deciduous forests if ponds for breeding are available. It also inhabits lakes, ponds and temporary pools if no fish live in them.

This species has a stout body, broad and rounded snout and a head swollen at the sides behind its jaw. It is relatively large in size, with strong, large legs. The digits on its legs may be four or five in number.

On its dorsal surface, the spotted salamander has dark coloration, as it is usually black, purplish black, dark gray or dark brown. It has a mid dorsal line and two rows of large spots on each side of the line.

The spots may be yellow, orange or some other related bright color. They run from each side of the head to the tail, ranging from twenty four (24) to forty five (45) in number. There are individuals with unspotted bodies but such are less common.

On its venter and underneath its limbs, an individual which belongs to this species is usually a pale slate gray color. It may have bright orange markings on its head. Females are likely larger than males, especially in the breeding season.

They are nocturnal, natatorial and terricolous salamanders. To protect themselves from predators, they have poison glands in the skin on their tails and backs. When threatened, they produce sticky white toxins from these skin glands.

Spotted salamanders may bite, make sounds, lash with their tails and butt with their heads when threatened by predators. They also release toxic substances from their skin when they feel threatened.

22. Valley and Ridge Salamander

Valley and Ridge Salamander (Plethodon hoffmani) held in left hand for picture
Valley and Ridge Salamander (Plethodon hoffmani) held in left hand for picture – source
  • Family: Plethodontidae 
  • Scientific Name: Plethodon hoffmani
  • Other Names: N/A
  • Adult Size: 13.7 cm (5.4 in) on average
  • Lifespan: N/A

Another species of salamanders in Pennsylvania is the valley and ridge salamander. Endemic to the US, it inhabits the Valley and Ridge Physiographic Province which consists of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

It occurs around the sloped hillsides of mixed deciduous forest with flat stones, where most of the area is dry and well drained. It may move from the forest floor to underground sites in relatively cold or dry seasons and then back up to the forest floor when these conditions are over.

Salamanders of this species have long, slender bodies. Their limbs are short and their tails equal to about 50% or more of their total body length. Dorsally, they are typically brown, a very dark shade of brown or black in color.

A few small red spots may sometimes be seen dotting this dorsal surface. Thin white or copper colored specks may also be noticed on their backs. Their ventral surface is also dark in color, with scattered white marks on it.

Their throats are lighter in color with numerous small white spots. There are often many white spots on the lower sides of the salamander’s body. The salamander is nocturnal, feeding at night but mostly under moist conditions.

To avoid predation, valley and ridge salamanders frequently become immobile when they are first touched by other animals. Like other plethodontid salamanders, they produce secretions from their skin but it is unknown whether or not the said secretions are toxic or poisonous.

23. Wehrle’s Salamander

Wehrle’s Salamander (Plethodon wehrlei) in hand on fingertips
Wehrle’s Salamander (Plethodon wehrlei) in hand on fingertips – source
  • Family: Plethodontidae 
  • Scientific Name: Plethodon wehrlei
  • Other Names: N/A
  • Adult Size: 10 to 17 cm (3.94 to 6.69 in); 16 cm (6.3 in) on average
  • Lifespan: N/A

Yet another species of salamanders in Pennsylvania is Wehrle’s salamander. It is found in several states of the US, including Kentucky, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

Individuals are found in varied habitats. They inhabit both mixed deciduous and coniferous forests in the Allegheny Plateau, Cumberland Plateau and high elevations of the Allegheny Mountains.

While they usually hide under the ground cover of logs, rocks and leaves, they also occur in caves, dry hillsides and large burrows. They may be the most abundant salamanders in their habitat, threatened by deforestation (they have not been found in Ohio since the 1930s). 

Dorsally, they are usually colored in any shade of brown from dark brown to blackish brown. Their dorsal surface is typically speckled in white. The sides of their bodies also have white, yellow or bluish white spots sometimes joined together to form an irregular band.

At the juvenile stage, Wehrle’s salamanders usually have two pairs of red spots on their backs which may be preserved into adulthood. Large yellow spots may be visible on the back in different populations of this salamander.

Ventrally, the belly is typically a uniform gray color while the throat and thd lower parts of the chin are spotted in white and yellow. Certain differences based on sex and by geographical distribution are evident in this species.

On average, males are smaller than females, with a gland on their chin and papillae on their cloaca. Wehrle’s salamanders are nocturnal. They also produce mucous secretions in their tails which may stop small predators from swallowing them.

Their secretion species is not poisonous, however. The species is listed as In Need of Conservation in the state of Maryland, In Need of Management in the state of West Virginia, and Threatened in the state of North Carolina.


Where do salamanders live in Pennsylvania?

Much like elsewhere, salamanders in Pennsylvania can be found in, near or along brooks, creeks, ponds and other moist locations such as under rocks. They are mostly found living in moist to wet forest streams.

Are Pennsylvania salamanders poisonous?

There are several poisonous species of salamanders in Pennsylvania. These include blue-spotted salamanders, eastern tiger salamanders, four-toed salamanders, green salamanders, hellbenders, Jefferson salamanders, marbled salamanders, mud salamanders, northern spring salamanders, red salamanders (the northern subspecies), red-backed salamanders, red-spotted newts, slimy salamanders and spotted salamanders.

Are there salamanders in Pennsylvania?

Yes; there are twenty three species of salamanders resident in Pennsylvania. Explained above, they are: Allegheny Mountain dusky salamanders, blue-spotted salamanders, common mudpuppies, eastern tiger salamanders, four-toed salamanders, green salamanders, hellbenders, Jefferson salamanders, long-tailed salamanders, marbled salamanders, mud salamanders, northern dusky salamanders, northern ravine salamanders, northern spring salamanders, northern two-lined salamanders, red salamanders, red-backed salamanders, red-spotted newts, seal salamanders, slimy salamanders, spotted salamanders, valley and ridge salamanders and Wehrle’s salamanders.

What is the most common salamander in Pennsylvania?

Spotted and four-toed salamanders are the most common salamanders in Pennsylvania.


There are twenty-three (23) species of salamanders in the state of Pennsylvania and they have been explained in the article above. This number mostly consists of plethodontid (lungless) salamanders but is also inclusive of other families.

Pennsylvania is within a biome known as the temperate forest biome. This state and the others within this biome are characterized by having long growing seasons, mild winters and regular rainfall, occurring mostly during the summer and spring.

Salamanders are valuable to the entire ecosystem and man as well because they control the populations of insects and arthropods. They eat these insects and pests while serving in turn as food for larger animals.

In most species of salamanders, fertilization occurs internally while the embryos develop externally. For mating or breeding to occur, males have to rub parts of their bodies against the females or butt, nudge, rub or slap them.

These gestures or behaviors then make the female more ready and responsive to reproductive activities. Males have a pack of sperm, known as a spermatophore, which they keep on the ground, in a pool or among debris.

An interested female inserts the sperm pack into her cloaca and it fertilizes her eggs. She then places these fertilized eggs under rocks, among sticks or with leaves. Females in some species protect their eggs until they hatch.

Salamanders are occasionally used as fishing bait. They can also serve as pets because they live fairly long and are not all poisonous. You can take note of the species listed as toxic above to avoid keeping them as pests or remember to wash your hands thoroughly after touching them.

Other nearby states

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