Description: The long-tailed salamander (Eurycea longicauda)
is one of the largest species in the genus Eurycea. The
size of this salamander ranges from about 4 to 8 inches (10-20
cm) long. As its name suggests, it has a noticeably long tail
which forms 60-65% of the total body length in adults. The dorsum
of the long-tailed salamander can vary from yellow, yellowish-orange,
yellowish-brown, or even orange-red. The body has many
black spots which can form broken lines. The tail has more
distinct black spots, which often form vertical markings that
can be in the shape of a dumbbell or herringbone. The venter is
light yellow to off-white and may either be spotless or speckled
with gray or light brown spots. Males which are sexually active
have prominent cirri. Females also have cirri, but they are not
nearly as evident as they are in the males. This species of salamander
typically has 13-14 costal grooves.
Range and Habitat: In our region, Long-tailed salamanders
are only found in northern Georgia. They are replaced by the closely-related
Three-Lined Salamander (E. guttolineata) further south
and east. Like most other species of plethodontid salamanders,
Long-Tailed Salamanders prefer to hide underneath rotting logs,
litter, and rocks during the day. Individuals are also frequently
found under surface cover near the edge of springs, streams, and
shaded seepages. Rock crevices and the entrances of caves and
mine shafts also provide suitable habitat.
Habits: Long-tailed salamanders are most active a few
hours after sunset on humid or rainy nights to feed on several
different types of invertebrates. They breed mostly in autumn
and early winter. Larvae inhabit streams until they metamorphose.
Adults can be found in large aggregates, which suggest that they
are not territorial. For example, 80 individuals were found under
a single slab of limestone in Ohio, and 300 individuals were collected
in a single day at the end of a mine shaft.
Conservation Status: Long-tailed salamanders are widely
distributed and common. This species is not protected by federal
law or Georgia state law.
Petranka, James W. Salamanders of the United States and Canada.
Smithsonian Institution Press. Washington. 1992.
Ireland, P.H. 1975. Eurycea longicauda. Cat. Amer. Amphib.
Account Author: Benjamin Morrison, University of Georgia
- edited by J.D. Willson