Eastern Red-backed Salamander

Posted on in Recent Sightings by Hawk Mountain

An Eastern Red-backed Salamander On the Forest Floor

While stopping to admire a mushroom, our communications intern nearly stepped on this Eastern Red-backed Salamander (Plethodon cinereus)! The tiny amphibian (only 2-4 inches long) angrily thrashed its way off the trail and back into the safety of the leaf litter, where the species spends most of its time. Aside from forest debris, eastern red-backed salamanders can also be found under rocks and logs in woodlands throughout the northeastern U.S. into Canada. They are one of the most numerous species of terrestrial salamanders within their range and come in two main color morphs: “redback” phase, which have a red dorsal stripe down the length of their body, and “leadback” phase, which do not have any red pigmentation.

Never handle wildlife you see on the trails, especially amphibians. Salamanders and frogs breathe through pores in their skin, so any chemicals found on your hands can be absorbed by the animal and may have detrimental effects on their wellbeing. 

Photo by Caroline Fegley.