The dusky salamanders (genus Desmognathus) are distributed throughout
eastern North America. Most dusky salamanders are variable with
regard to their coloration, and our most common species is no
exception. Desmognathus fuscus is the most wide-ranging
of the dusky salamanders, being found from southern Canada all
the way to the Gulf of Mexico. Recently the spotted dusky salamander
(D. conanti) has been elevated from a subspecies of D.
fuscus to a full species. Both species are abundant in stream
habitats in the Piedmont and Mountains of South Carolina and Georgia.
Description: Desmognathus conanti is a moderately
stout salamander with a moderately keeled tail, 6.4
- 12.7 cm TL (2.5 - 5 in). It usually has 6-8 pairs of golden
spots on dorsum, which in adults may fuse to form a light stripe
with a dark, irregular border. The belly is light with dark flecks.
Coloration varies widely throughout range. Until recently, the
spotted dusky salamander was considered a subspecies of the Northern
Dusky Salamander (D. fuscus). These two species are very
similar in appearance and are best differentiated by range.
Range and Habitat: This salamander is restricted to the
Piedmont and lower elevations of the mountains. They are abundant
in and near cool streams and small rivers.
Habits: Adult Spotted Dusky Salamanders take refuge under
logs, rocks, and leaf litter during the day, and move on stream
banks at night. During courtship, the male stimulates the female
by transferring pheromones from his mental gland, usually by rubbing
his chin against the female's head or body. Eggs are laid under
streamside debris and larvae are fully aquatic
Conservation Status: State listed common.
Verrell, P. A. 1995. The courtship behavior of the spotted
dusky salamander, Desmognathus fuscus conanti (Amphibia:
Caudata: Plethodontidae). Journal of Zoology, London 235: 515-523.
Account Author: Aaliyah Greene, University of Georgia
- revised by J.D. Willson