Description: Red salamanders are one of the largest
stream salamanders in our region (4 - 6 in; 10 -15 cm). They
are stout-bodied and short-tailed (tail length about 80%
of snout-vent length). Coloration is bright red to reddish
orange with many irregularly rounded, black spots with a somewhat
lighter belly. Older adults and those from the Coastal Plain are
darker in coloration. This species can be distinguished from the
similar mud salamander (P. montanus) by its longer and
less blunt snout and yellow iris.
Range and Habitat: The red salamander occurs through much
of the eastern United States and occurs throughout the mountains,
Piedmont, and Upper Coastal Plain of South Carolina and Georgia.
Red salamanders may be found in a variety of habitats but are
most common around streams, springs, and small creeks. Adults
wander far from water into upland forest habitats.
Habits: Red Salamanders are most frequently encountered
under rocks, logs, and other cover objects near streams or seeps.
Although they take cover under such objects by day they are active
at night when they search for invertebrate and small vertebrate
prey. In some regions the bulk of Red Salamander diets consist
of other salamanders. Adults are frequently found crossing roads
on rainy nights. Breeding occurs between June and September with
spawning in October (averaging around 70 eggs/clutch). Females
attach eggs to the underside of rocks or logs and stay with the
eggs until they hatch in early December. The aquatic larvae undergo
metamorphosis 27-31 months after hatching and generally reach
sexual maturity in 4 years.
Conservation Status: Red salamanders are common in our
region and are not protected.
Account Author: Justin Neal, University of Georgia - revised
by J.D. Willson