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Southern Dusky Salamander (Desmognathus auriculatus)


Photos by J.D. Willson unless otherwise noted

 
species photo range map: SC and GArange map: eastern US
 

Description: Southern Dusky Salamanders are mid-sized -- 3-5 in. (7.5-12.5 cm) - fairly stout salamander with back legs slightly larger than front. A row of white spots, or "portholes," runs along each side, posterior to front legs. The tail is slightly flattened. This species is variable in color but is generally dark brown to black, sometimes with a lighter patch running down the back. The underside is often flecked with white dots. This species is very similar in appearance to the closely-related Northern and Spotted Dusky Salamanders (D. fuscus and D. conanti). These species are so similar in appearance that range is usually the best way to tell them apart.

Range and Habitat: Southern Dusky Salamanders are found throughout the Coastal Plain of the southeastern US, but are absent from peninsular Florida. They are found in mucky areas, in or near slow-moving and stagnant streams, cypress ponds, swamps, or pools in floodplains. They are often found under cover such as branches, logs, or rocks.

Habits: Southern Dusky Salamanders seldom stray far from water and feed mostly on aquatic invertebrates. Breeding behavior occurs from September-October. Females lay from 9-20 eggs under logs, rocks, or leaf litter and females sometimes protect the eggs. Eggs hatch in early fall and undergo metamorphosis the following spring.

Conservation Status: Although common and not protected in our region, this species is thought to be declining in North Carolina. Future research will determine the causes of such declines, but it is likely that habitat alteration, particularly siltation and channelization of streams is to blame.

Account Author: Glenn Thomas, University of Georgia - edited by J.D. Willson

 

 
Salamanders of SC and GA
Reptiles and Amphibians of SC and GA
SREL Herpetology