DEEP: Northern Redback Salamander

Northern Redback Salamander

(Plethodon cinereus)

{Northern Redback Salamander}

IDENTIFICATION: A highly variable small woodland salamander with a cylindrical tail. The venter is gray with fine white speckles. Two color phases are found, the most common has a deep red dorsum edged with black. Salamanders with a unicolor gray-black dorsum, often sprinkled with greenish metallic highlights, are also widespread. Both these phases commonly occur within a single population. A much rarer all red (erythristic) phase is also found, but is common only at a few sites. Adults 70-100 mm total length.

The redback salamander is undoubtedly Connecticut's most ubiquitous amphibian, found in forested areas throughout the state. These small amphibians are a vital component of the forest food chain, reaching very high densities in mature forests. They are preyed upon by a wide variety of small vertebrates. Redback salamanders do not have an aquatic larval stage, the young hatching fully developed from eggs deposited under logs and stones. This lack of dependence on standing water has enabled these salamander to persist even in fragmented patches of forest and in wooded parks surrounded by urban development. Both the red-striped and unstriped (unicolor) phases occur in Connecticut, and an all red (erythristic) phase is localized in upland areas of northern Litchfield County, most frequently found in the towns of Colebrook, Norfolk, and Winchester.

Salamanders | Amphibians and Reptiles in Connecticut