seal salamander

(Desmognathus monticola)


This is a robust salamander that is buff, green-gray, or light brown with dark, wavy, worm-like marks on its back. It has a pale or slightly mottled belly. The separation between the back and belly coloration is very distinct. In the Virginia Blue Ridge, the dark dorsal markings are usually reduced to scattered, round dots. The tail, which makes up about half of the total length, is compressed and knife-like at the tip. Its name may have come from its appearance when perched at a burrow entrance or on a wet rock, giving the appearance of a tiny seal. This salamander hides under rocks or logs, or stays in burrows near streams, during the day. This salamander deposits its eggs in cavities of rotten logs or the undersurfaces of rocks in streams.


The seal salamander is found in the Appalachian mountains and adjacent ares of the piedmont in Virginia. It inhabits hardwood forests near rocky, cold streams, seepages, and springs. It is most abundant at elevations below 1370 meters.


This salamander forages at night for other salamanders and invertebrates.