Description: A large -- 3-7.25 in (7.5-18.4 cm)
- salamander that is generally paedomorphic (adults are
aquatic and retain larval characteristics) and rarely metamorphoses
in nature. Coloration ranges from nearly white to dark brown
with spots, with bright-red external gills, small lidless eyes,
and a large tail fin. They have a broad snout with a turned
up at tip and 17-19 costal grooves.
Range and Habitat: Tennessee Cave Salamanders are only
found in a small area of the southern Appalachian Mountains in
Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama. In our region, they are only
found in the extreme northwest corner of Georgia. They inhabit
subterranean waters in or around limestone caves. Sinkholes are
an important habitat component for this species.
Habits: Because of their inaccessible habitat, little
is known about the natural history of this species. They are presumably
nocturnal and feed on aquatic insects and other invertebrates.
Conservation Status: Currently listed as threatened by
the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). Listed by IUCN
Red List as vulnerable because its area of occupancy is less than
2,000 km², its distribution is severely fragmented, and there
is continuing decline in the extent and quality of its habitat,
and the number of mature individuals, in Tennessee, Alabama and
Account Author: Carmel Norman, University of Georgia -
edited by J.D. Willson