This species is a member of a complex of five species that are identified primarily by their geographic range. D. ochrophaeus is distinguished from other species in the complex by its somewhat straight stripes along the upper sides and a straight-edged, reddish or light brown stripe down the middle of the back. Spawning occurs mostly in July and August. The nest site is a mud depression or crevice beneath a log or stump, near a seepage or in a muddy streambed. The average clutch is 12 with a range of 3-27 eggs, and hatching occurs in October. Adults are nocturnal, remaining under cover or in recesses by day. They are aggressive, defending their space against other salamanders.
This salamander is restricted to forested habitats in southwestern Virginia. Larvae inhabit seeps or slow-moving areas of streams. It generally uses seeps for nesting and hibernation sites, but otherwise is terrestrial. They appear under rocks, leaves, and logs in woodlands
Larvae feed on small invertebrates. Adults eat a variety of prety items, including adult and immature terrestrial insects, terrestrial worms, other terrestrial invertebrates, aquatic insects, and aquatic snails.