Other Amphibian of the Week

Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber)

Red Salamander
by Leif Van Laar

Common Name: Red Salamander
Scientific Name: Pseudotriton ruber
Family: Plethodontidae– Lungless Salamander family
Location: United States of America: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia
Size: 4 – 7 inches (100 – 180 mm)

The Red Salamander lives in the eastern half of the United States under rocks and logs and in streams. They are a member of the family Plethodontidae – the Lungless Salamanders, so they don’t have lungs. There are four different subspecies: Northern Red Salamander (P. r. ruber), Blue Ridge Red Salamander (P. r. nitidus), Black-chinned Salamander (P. r. schencki), and Southern Red Salamander (P. r. vioscai).

The Red Salamander is not poisonous but the red color might be a form of mimicry. The Eastern Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) in it’s Eft phase (eft is a phase of the newt’s life where it’s not a mature adult but not a larva) is poisonous and found in the range. The salamander hopes it’s predator confuses it with the newt. Other’s think that the coloration is a warning because the salamander tastes bad.

Red Salamander
photo by William Flaxington

Salamanders move back to the streams to breed. The eggs of the salamander are laid in fall and early winter depending on where they are located in their range (northern areas earlier). The females lay between 29 and 130 eggs. The eggs hatch in 2 to 3 months. The larval phase for lasts between 1.5 to 3.5 years!

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List assesses the salamander as Least Concern for Extinction. They have a wide range and are thought to be numerous throughout it.

3 thoughts on “Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber)”

Leave a Reply