northern red salamander

(Pseudotriton ruber ruber)


This salamander is large, stout, and red to reddish-orange with irregular, rounded black spots on the back. Adults grow to lengths of 4-6 in. (10-15.2 cm.). Females in the southern Blue Ridge region are an average of 10% larger than the males. The iris is yellow. The underside of the legs and tail are usually immaculate. There are no whitish flecks around the snout and on the head in adults. The edge of the chin is flecked with black. Courtship is in the summer, spawning in October and hatching in early December. The average clutch is 70 eggs. The clutch size increases with female body size. Egg-laying may be initiated by falling temperatures.


This salamander is found in and about clear, cold springs and small streams of wooded ravines, swamps, open fields, and meadows throughout most of Virginia, with the exception of the southeastern corner and the three southwestern counties where the Blue Ridge red salamander subspecies (P. ruber ruber) occurs. The adult is often terrestrial during the summer months and may be found hiding beneath logs, bark, and stones, some distance from the water. The larvae are found in small, rocky streams. This species inhabits leaf masses in spring-fed brooks and in crevices and burrows in loose, moist soil nearby, and under ground cover. The adults dig deep beneath the bed of a stream or spring in the winter.


This species feeds on adult and immature terrestrial insects, other terrestrial arthropods, terrestrial worms, and other terrestrial invertebrates.