Green Salamander (Aneides aeneus)

Green Salamander (Aneides aeneus)

Photos by J.D. Willson unless otherwise noted

Description: Green Salamanders are mid-sized — 3 ¼-5 inches. (8.3-12.5 cm) – salamanders with flattened heads, square toes, and coloration that resembles green lichen-like markings on a dark background. The ventral region of the salamander is generally lighter than the dorsal patterned side. Anatomical differences in males from females become prominent during the breeding season. Males have disklike glands on their chins known as mental glands and protrusions from the face known as cirri. Range and habitat are also useful clues in identification of this species.

Range and Habitat: In North American the range of the green salamander extends throughout the Appalachian mountain region. Eastern Tennessee and Kentucky harbor stronghold populations of Aneides aeneus. Scattered populations also exist in the Blue Ridge Mountains of north Georgia, western North Carolina, and northwestern South Carolina. In our region this species is only found in the extreme northern Georgia and northeastern South Carolina. The primary habitat of the species includes humid cliff faces with numerous crevices. Suitable habitat contains moist stones and logs in moist forests.

Habits: Green salamanders are usually found in cliff faces, but recently there have been multiple accounts of this species found under bark of trees. They are often seen wedged deep into damp rock crevices. Females lay eggs in crevices in the summer and brood eggs until they hatch. There is no aquatic larval stage. Populations of Green Salamanders in the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia have declined greatly in recent years, presumably due to habitat alteration or potentially disease.

Conservation Status: Although this species is federally unprotected, it is endangered in North Carolina and listed as “rare” Georgia.

Pertinent Reference:
Corser, Jeffrey D. 2000. Decline of disjunct green salamander (Aneides aeneus) populations in the southern Appalachians. Biological Conservation 97 (2001) 119-126.

Account author: Jason Norman, University of Georgia – edited by J.D. Willson