Eastern Red-backed Salamander

Scientific Name: Plethodon cinereus
Size: 2.2 to 5.0 inches (5.7-12.7 cm) in length
Status: Abundant

Deciduous, mixed hardwood-conifer, and coniferous forest.

Adult Coloration:
  • There are two common color morphs that occur with in most populations.
  • Striped Morph (red-backed)
  • The dorsal has a broad straight ridged middorsal stripe that extends from the head and onto the tail. The middorsal stripe ranges from red, orangish red, light tan, beige, cream to grey; and is bordered on each side by a black stripe that is mottled with white on the lower half of the sides.
  • Black spots may occur wit in the middorsal stripe.
  • The ventral is strongly mottled with black and white; giving the belly a salt and pepper look.
  • Unstriped Morph (lead-backed)
  • The middorsal strip is absent.
  • The dorsal is uniform dark greyish black to black and often has white to brassy flecks.
  • The ventral is strongly mottled with black and white; giving the belly a salt and pepper look.
  • The Red Morph (erythristic)
  • This is a less common morph.
  • The dorsal, sides and legs are bright red and the color extends on to the belly.
Adult Characteristics:
  • Small and relatively slender species.
  • The legs are small.
  • The body is somewhat rounded.
  • The head is slightly distinct from the body.
  • The snout is short and truncated.
  • The tail is as long as the body, thick and rapidly tapes to a point.
  • 18-20 costal grooves.
Juvenile Characteristics:
  • Similar to adults.

Juvenile Gallery:

May be Confused With:
  • Hulse, C. and McCoy C. J. and Ellen Censky ,1998. Amphibians and Reptiles of Pennsylvania and the Northeast. 101-106pp.
  • Petranka, James W. ,1998. Salamanders of the United States and Canada. 335-346pp.
  • Tom Diez
  • Kyle Loucks
  • Bob Hamilton
  • Wayne Fidler
  • Jason Poston
  • Don Becker (psychoticnature.com)
  • Brandon Hunsberger
  • Kyle Fawcett
  • Stephen Staedtler

Heads up!

Please contribute your observation of this and other herps to the Pennsylvania Amphibian and Reptile Survey. Your help is needed.

Submit Your Finding