Big Levels salamander (Plethodon sherando)

Distribution Map

Distribution Map


This is a recently discovered species of salamander. It is a tenth species of woodland salamander of the Plethodon cinereus group. This salamander has 18 costal grooves. When compared to the eastern red-backed salamander (Plethodon cinereus), the Big Levels salamanderís head is slightly larger and its limbs are slightly longer. Similar in appearance to the eastern red-backed salamander, the Big Levels salamander occurs as a striped or unstriped morph. When striped, this species has a varying red stripe down the center of its gray-colored back, but may be less red than the striped morphs of the eastern red-backed salamander. Also, the red pigment may be concentrated into many small, irregularly-shaped spots along the stripe. The unstriped morphs of this species will have a gray back, often with the area where the stripe is missing having a slightly lighter gray color. The belly is white to yellowish mottled with gray, usually with more white pigment than that of the eastern red-backed salamander.


It is known only in Augusta County in the vicinity of the area of the Blue Ridge known as Big Levels. It occurs at elevations of 579 to 1091 meters. Some individuals were found in rocky talus slopes.


Small invertebrates are most likely its primary prey.

More Information

For more information, please visit the Virginia Fish & Wildlife Information Service (direct link to species booklet).