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Plethodon cinereus

Common Name: Northern Red-backed Salamander
Plethodon cinereus
Plethodon cinereus

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Urodela
Family: Plethodontidae
Genus: Plethodon
Species: Plethodon cinereus

Conservation Status

Identifying Features

Northern red-backed salamanders are around 2-4 inches in length and have slender bodies. They are most commonly found as the “red-backed” phase with a reddish stripe from head to tail. The “lead-backed” phase has a dark gray stripe that lacks any of the red color. Both phases have dark gray bodies with white flecks and speckled black and white bellies.

Habitat & Range

Red-backed salamanders live in the wooded areas throughout eastern North America. Both adults and larvae are terrestrial and can be found underneath logs, stumps, or moist leaf litters.


Red-backed salamanders can exhibit different behaviors to predators depending on their color phase. When facing predators, the red-backed phase will stay immobile and display brighter coloration as a warning, while the lead-backed phase will often run away.

Life Cycle

Red-backed salamanders have different feeding and mating territories between males and females. They will come together during the summer to breed. After mating, the females will deposit their eggs under decaying logs or stumps where they will hatch in 6 to 8 weeks.

Featured image by James Dake.


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