Description: The Southern Redbacked Salamander (Plethodon
serratus) is a small woodland salamander and ranges
from 3 - 4 in (8-10.5 cm) long. Its body is mainly dark gray
or black with a light middorsal stripe down the back and on
to the tail. The stripe may be orange or reddish and is widest
above each costal groove. The name serratus is derived
from the saw-toothed manner in which the middorsal stripe meets
the dark area on the sides. It also appears in a "leadback"
variation, which is dark and unpatterned. This species looks very
similar to the Webster's Salamander (Plethodon websteri).
In most areas, these species can be distinguished by range, however,
where their ranges overlap in western Georgia, P. serratus
has a straighter dorsal stripe (but will with serrated edges),
while the stripe of P. websteri is more jagged.
Range and Habitat: Southern Redback Salamanders are found
in disjunct populations found in the mountains of west-central
Arkansas, southeastern Oklahoma, central and southeastern Missouri,
and the the northwestern third of Georgia. A salamander of forested
areas, the redback can be found hiding beneath rocks, clumps of
moss, and decaying logs where the substrate remains moist. During
the dry season, they can be found near seeps and springs.
Habits: A woodland salamander, eggs are normally laid
in damp logs, moss, or other moist substrates of the same consistency.
There is no aquatic larval stage for this salamander and complete
development occurs within the egg. Adults feed on small arthropods
Conservation Status: Plethodon serratus is not
threatened in Georgia, but due to the disjunct populations may
be state-listed as rare in places like Illinois and South Carolina
that lie on the fringe of their range.
Herbeck, L.A., Semlitsch, R.D. 2000. Life history and ecology
of the Southern Redback Salamander, Plethodon serratus,
in Missouri. Journal of Herpetology. 34:341.
Account Author: Geoffrey Bailey, University of Georgia
- edited by J.D. Willson