Slimy Salamander

Plethodon glutinosus
Slimy Salamander

NPS PHoto

Family: Plethodontidae

Plethodon glutinosus

Slimy Salamander

Size: 11.4 to 20.7 cm long (4 ½" to 8 ¼")

General Description: Body usually shiny black with well scattered spots. Spots may be larger or small, white, gray or yellow on sides and silvery, white or brassy flecks on head back and tail. Dark colored throat. Slate colored belly generally noticeably lighter than dorsal color. Skin will create a sticky or slimy secretion when animal is handled. Nasolabial grooves present. 16 costal grooves, although may range from 15 to 17. The tail is round in cross-section.

Similar Species: Cumberland Plateau and Southern Appalachian Salamanders may appear similar, but can possibly be ruled out by range distribution. Mole and Jefferson Salamanders, Ambystoma talpoideum and A. jeffersonianum, lack the grooves running from nostrils down to lip that Slimy Salamanders have. There are several species in the Plethodon glutinosus complex and differentiation between the species in the field is best determined by geographic range.

Reproduction: Breeds in fall in northern areas and spring to summer in southern regions of range.

Habitat: Commonly found under flat rocks or rotten logs and leaf litter in shady forested areas; shale banks, ravine slopes, wooded floodplains, cave entrances, etc. Found from near sea level to 5,500' (1,676 m) in elevation.

Behavior: Typically more active at night especially after rains or during humid conditions. Not active at the ground surface during drought or extreme heat or cold. Animals may flip their body or lash their tail at predators. They may even emit a squeaking sound when attacked.

Note: This species is one of a group of slimy salamanders referred to as the Plethodon glutinosus complex. Their appearances are similar and may be impossible to distinguish in the field; there are 13 genetically distinct species in this group. Short of genetically testing animals using laboratory techniques the best way to distinguish among these species is from their distribution maps. The list of these species and their common names as noted by the Peterson Reptiles and Amphibians Field Guide is as follows:

Plethodon albagulaWestern Slimy Salamander

Plethodon chattahoochee Chattahoochee Slimy Salamander

Plethodon chlorobryonisAtlantic Coast Slimy Salamander

Plethodon cylindraceusWhite-Spotted Slimy Salamander

Plethodon glutinosusNorthern Slimy Salamander

Plethodon grobmaniSoutheastern Slimy Salamander

Plethodon kiamichiKiamichi Slimy Salamander

Plethodon kisatchieLouisiana Slimy Salamander

Plethodon mississippiMississippi Slimy Salamander

Plethodon ocmulgeeOcmulgee Slimy Salamander

Plethodon savannahSavannah Slimy Salamander

Plethodon sequoyahSequoyah Slimy Salamander

Plethodon variolatusSouth Carolina Slimy Salamander

Last updated: April 14, 2015

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