Salamanders of West Virginia
Family: Cryptobranchidae
Eastern Hellbender

Family: Proteidae

Common Mudpuppy

Family: Salamandridae

Red-spotted Newt/Red Eft

Family: Ambystomatidae

Streamside Salamander
Jefferson Salamander
Spotted Salamander
Marbled Salamander
Small-mouthed Salamander

Family: Plethodontidae

Green Salamander
Northern Dusky Salamander
Seal Salamander
Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander
Black-bellied Salamander
Black Mountain Salamander
Northern Spring Salamander
Kentucky Spring Salamander
West Virginia Spring Salamander
Four-toed Salamander
Northern/Southern Two-lined Salamander
Long-tailed Salamander
Cave Salamander
Eastern Red-backed Salamander
White-spotted Slimy Salamander
Northern Slimy Salamander
Cumberland Plateau Salamander  
Northern Ravine Salamander  
Southern Ravine Salamander  
Valley and Ridge Salamander
Cheat Mountain Salamander
Shenandoah Mountain Salamander
Cow Knob Salamander
Wehrle's Salamander
Midland Mud Salamander  
Northern Red Salamander

WV County Map

Herpetology Terms


Kingdom: Animalia
   Phylum: Chordata
      Class:  Amphibia
         Order:  Caudata


West Virginia has 34 species of salamanders that range in length from 4 inches to 2 feet.  Salamanders have an elongated body and a long tail, a body shape that resembles lizards, and for this reason, they are occasionally referred to as “spring lizards”.  Salamanders, frogs and toads are amphibians, while lizards, turtles and snakes are reptiles.  As amphibians, salamanders lack the reptilian characteristics of lizards such as body scales and claws on their toes.  Because of their delicate, scaleless bodies, salamanders are restricted to aquatic to semiaquatic habitats such as rivers, creeks, springs, and moist, forested hillsides.


Although the word amphibian means double life because many amphibians leave terrestrial habitats and return to water to deposit eggs, many species of salamanders are not obligated to this life style.  Most species that live in forests do not return to water to deposit eggs but lay them in moist terrestrial habitats, such as, under rocks, logs, and in rock crevices.  Unlike reptiles, amphibians have a larval stage.  Larvae of salamanders generally resemble adults except they have obvious external gills in the neck region.  Within time, larvae lose the gills and develop into adults.  For most species the larval stage occurs in streams or ponds, but for species that nest in forests, the larval stage occurs within the egg.


Amphibians have permeable skin, gelatinous eggs, and gilled larvae, which permit the absorption of pollutants from water and soil into their bodies.  They are also ectotherms (“cold-blooded”) meaning ambient temperatures regulate their body temperature.  These physical characteristics make amphibians more sensitive to changes in their surroundings than animals with protective features such as scales, feathers, hair, and shells on eggs.  Amphibians are nature’s “canary in the coal mines” and are excellent bioindicators to alert people of potential dangers in the environment.  


Salamanders consume enormous numbers of insects in a variety of terrestrial and aquatic habitats.  They, in turn, are food items for many predators such as fishes, birds, and mammals. 

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