four-toed salamander

(Hemidactylium scutatum)


This species is 2 to 3.5 inches in length. The back is brown and the belly is white with conspicuous scattered black dots. This salamander is unique because it has 4 toes on each hind foot (most salamanders have 5) as well as 4 on each front foot. The female lays 30-50 eggs under sphagnum moss in early March, and the larvae hatch in May. The larvae mature at 1.5 years. Brooding is a solitary activity, but there is communal egg laying by up to 14 females. This species is aquatic in the larval stage and terrestrial as an adult.


This salamander is found in the Coastal Plain (except extreme southeast Virginia), Piedmont, and Ridge and Valley regions of Virginia. It inhabits bogs, seepages or shallow ponds with moss-covered logs, roots and grass clumps over quiet water. It is usually found in areas with sphagnum moss.


The four-toed salamander eats adult and larval insects, arthropods, worms and other terrestrial invertebrates.