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Northern Dusky Salamander

Desmognathus fuscus


Juvenile spotted in a small rocky stream in the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, MD. The dusky salamanders go through metamorphosis much quicker than most stream salamander species, and end up becoming an adorable and perfect miniature version of the adult form. Northern Dusky Salamanders are variable in color and pattern. They usually have a reddish-brown, wavy bordered stripe down the back. Their belly is cream-colored and usually sprinkled with gray or brown flecks. Adults reach about 5 inches and have a dorsal keel on the tail. Juveniles have 5 to 8 pairs of reddish dots along the edges of the back between the front and hind legs.


This salamander inhabits a variety of habitats, both aquatic and semi-aquatic. It is abundant in stream, springs, seepages in bottomland forests and wooded ravines.


Dusky salamanders are in the lungless salamander family and have no lungs. They “breathe” by absorbing oxygen through the skin. Also, members of this family have a groove that runs from the nose to the upper lip which may aid in smelling, which is important when finding prey and identifying potential mates.

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Spotted by

Maryland, USA

Spotted on Jun 20, 2015
Submitted on Jul 19, 2015

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