Cow Knob Salamander
Plethodon punctatus

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photos by Jeff Humphries
Great North Mtn., Hardy Co., West Virginia

Species DescriptionA large plethodontid salamander with white or yellow flecks on the sides, legs, and cheeks.  Its head is flattened dorso-ventrally and the throat is light in color.  Similar species include the slimy salamander 
(P. glutinosus) which has flecks on its back, a darker throat, and a more rounded head.  The white-spotted slimy 
(P. cylinderaceus) may also occur with the cow knob, but also has flecking on its back and a rounded head.

Habitat: This salamander is very difficult to find, as it is only locally abundant.  It is usually found at elevations greater than 2,500 ft. and is associated with relatively wet, talus covered hillsides.  It is active at night during the spring and fall on rainy nights, but is rarely ever found during the hottest months of the summer.

Range: The cow knob salamander is restricted to only the highest peaks of Shenandoah and North Mountains
on the border of Virginia and West Virginia.  In West Virginia it occurs in Pendleton, Hardy, and possibly Hampshire Counties.

Comments: This is probably one of West Virginia's rarest salamanders, due to its very specific habitat and elevational requirements. Populations are geographically isolated from each other.