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Herps of SC/GA

Blackbelly Salamander (Desmognathus quadramaculatus)

Photos by J.D. Willson unless otherwise noted

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

Description: Blackbelly Salamanders are the largest stream salamanders in the southeast, averaging 4-7 in (10-18 cm). They are robust, dark brown or black in color, and usually have a double horizontal row of light spots on each side. The belly is black in adults but sometimes flecked with white or yellow markings in juveniles.

Range and Habitat: Blackbellies range throughout the southern Appalachian Mountains from Georgia to Tennessee at elevations of 1,600 to 5,000 feet. They are common in small streams and seeps that contain a lot of rocks, cobble, and cascades.

Habits: Blackbelly Salamanders are among the most aquatic Desmognathine salamanders and seldom venture far from water. They usually hide under rocks by day and hunt at night. As adults these large salamanders are bold, and are sometimes found resting in the open during the day. They are known to bite, although painlessly. 15-40 eggs are laid singly on the underside of rocks in spring and early summer. Young hatch August to September and aquatic larvae mature in 3.5 years.

Conservation Status: Blackbelly salamanders are common in the areas they occur and are not listed by any state or the federal government.

Pertinent References:
Camp, C. D. 1997. The status of the black-bellied salamander (Desmognathus quadramaculatus) as a predator of heterospecific salamanders in Appalachian streams. Journal of Herpetology, 31(4): 613-

Rissler, L. J., D. R. Taylor. 2003. The Phylogenetics of desmognathine salamander populations across the southern Appalachians. Molecular-Phylogenetics-and-Evolution, 27(2): 197-211.

Account Author: Matthew King, University of Georgia - edited by J.D. Willson

species photo
species photo

Comparison of adult blackbelly (left) and dwarf blackbelly (right) salamanders


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