This is a large salamander with webbed hind feet. The ground color is bluish-black with small, scattered white spots on the back. The sides are covered with white to yellow spots and blotches. The belly and ventral surface of the tail are solid gray, and the throat and upper chest usually have white or yellowish blotches. This species grows to a length of 10-17 cm. Mating occurs from fall through spring. A small cluster of eggs is laid in early summer in damp logs, soils or moss, and in crevices in caves. Reproduction is biennial or irregular, with many mature females failing to breed each year. This species stays under cover during the day, and comes out to forage at night.
This species is found on forested hillsides in the Appalachian Plateau, where it hides by day beneath stones or rocks. It is also found at the entrances of caves and deep rock crevices, as well as burrows under rocks and logs.
This salamander forages at night for ants, mites, spiders, beetles, and other terrestrial invertebrates.