• !5-inch Rodman Cannon

    Civil War Defenses of Washington

    District of Columbia

Redback Salamander

red-back salamander

NPS Photo

Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia

Order: Caudata
Family: Plethodontidae
Genus: Plethodon

Characteristics: The most common salamander is the redback salamander. It has two different color phases. The "redback" phase consists of a gray or black body with a red or orange stripe down the back, extending from the neck onto the tail. The "leadback" phase lacks the red stripe, with a purely black or gray back instead. Its belly is a mottled white and gray in both phases, creating a salt and pepper pattern. The redback salamander has 16 to 19 costal grooves, no circular constriction at the base of its tail, five toes on its hind feet, and grows to about five inches. These physical characteristics help to distinguish the redback salamander from other salamanders similar in appearance.

Habitat: Redback salamanders are terrestrial and live in deciduous forests. They are found in the leaf litter on the ground as well as under rocks, logs, or in small burrows. They need to live near water because they do not have lungs and require moist skin for respiration.

Did You Know?

map of WDC and Atlantic Coastal Plain and Piedmont Plateau

The Civil War Defenses of Washington exist because of geology and topography. The strategic high ground where the fortifications are located stretches between two considerably different geologic terrains: the Piedmont Plateau to the north and west and the Atlantic Coastal Plain to the east.