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Red Back Salamander

Plethodon cinereus


A small, hardy woodland salamander that is It is 2-5 inches long. The red-backed salamander is found mostly in two color variations: the common red variety, 'redback', as well as a darker phase known as the 'leadback' which lacks most or all of the red pigmentation found in the red phase. Both are shown in this photo. This salamander is different than most. Not only does it live on land its whole life, it doesn't have lungs or gills and breathes right through its skin! To help absorb oxygen, it needs moisture and has to keep its skin wet. It hangs out in humid areas that are shaded, and underneath leaf litter, rotten bark, or decaying logs on the ground. These salamanders eat lots of slimy critters like insects and their larvae, mites, spiders, and slugs. Other forest animals: birds, shrews and snakes, make a meal out of this salamander. Males and females typically establish separate feeding and/or mating territories underneath rocks and logs. However, some red-backed salamanders are thought to engage in social monogamy, and may maintain co-defended territories throughout their active period. Breeding occurs in June and July. Females produce from 4 to 17 eggs in a year. The eggs will hatch in 6 to 8 weeks. Red-backed salamanders young change to adults while they are in the egg and they don't go through a free-swimming larval stage, they emerge as mini-adults.


The mixed coniferous-deciduous forest is the perfect place for the red-backed salamander to live with lots of rocks, decaying logs, leaf litter and stumps.


These have gotten rare by me due to severe loss of any wooded areas, I can only find them in one small patch of woods now, and there are less and less each year.

No species ID suggestions


SherriDamlo 7 years ago

Nice shot. Love them both together like that.

peter 8 years ago


keithp2012 8 years ago

Red Back Salamander

New York, USA

Lat: 40.70, Long: -73.35

Spotted on Oct 29, 2010
Submitted on Oct 29, 2010

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