Salamanders of West Virginia
Identification and Natural History
· Small-mouthed Salamander
· Streamside Salamander
Eastern Hellbender (Page under constuction)
· Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander
· Northern Spring Salamander
· West Virginia Spring Salamander
· Midland Mud Salamander
· Southern Two-lined Salamander
· Cave Salamander
· Cumberland Plateau Salamander
· Ravine Salamander
· Northern Ravine Salamander
· Shenandoah Mountain Salamander
Salamanders are the most diverse group of amphibians in West Virginia, with 34 species in 5 families. The family Plethodontidae, the lungless salamanders, contains the most species. These salamanders breathe almost entirely through their skin. Because of this, they require relatively cool, moist habitats. The Appalachian Mountains are perfect for these creatures! Since it is usually cooler and misty at night in the mountains, most of the Plethodontids are active after dark. They can easily be found from spring through fall by going out to a forest or a stream at night with a flashlight. They spend most of their evenings hunting for insects.
Some of the other salamanders are more difficult to find. Ambystomatids, the mole salamanders, spend most of their lives underground. If you catch the right night though, you can see thousands of these animals walking across the forest floor to their breeding pond!
The hellbender and the mudpuppy spend their entire lives underwater, usually in larger streams. They are also very large compared with other salamanders. Hellbenders can grow to over 2 feet long and mudpuppies reach about a foot in length.
There are 2 species of salamanders that are endemic to West Virginia - meaning they are only found here. The West Virginia spring salamander (Gyrinophilus subterraneus) is found in only one cave in Greenbrier County. The Cheat Mountain salamander (Plethodon nettingi) is only found on the high mountain peaks in northeastern West Virginia. This species is usually found only where red spruce exists and it is listed as a federally Threatened Species because of its specific habitat requirements and limited range.
Click on the names to the
left to learn about each species.
Page was created by Jeff Humphries and is now maintained by the Herpetology Lab at Marshall University.
Last updated February 2004
Questions or comments on the web page email Dr. Thomas K. Pauley at firstname.lastname@example.org