Eastern Red-backed Salamander (Plethodon cinereus) - Ohio Herp Atlas

Eastern Red-backed Salamander Plethodon cinereus

Length 2 1/4 – 3 5/8 in. (6-9 cm). This is a small, slender salamander which, unlike most other salamanders, has three distinct color phases. In the red-striped phase, a broad reddish- brown stripe bordered by dark pigment runs down the salamander’s back; in the leadback phase, the animal is dark gray or gray-black. A red phase is restricted to northeastern Ohio. Found throughout the state, the Red-backed Salamander is most of ten seen in early spring beneath rocks and logs, especially on floodplains. Both red-striped and leadback phases may occur together. This salamander is entirely land-dwelling and usually will not go to water even to breed. The eggs are laid in summer, hanging like a miniature cluster of grapes from the underside of a moist log or rock. The larvae pass through most of their gill-breathing stage while in the egg. When the eggs hatch in late summer, the gills have decreased significantly. Within 24 to 48 hours after hatching, the gills shrivel up and are barely noticeable.

Text courtesy of the Ohio Division of Wildlife: https://wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/portals/wildlife/pdfs/publications/id%20guides/pub348.pdf

Distribution Map
Distribution map of Eastern Red-backed Salamander (Plethodon cinereus)
Photographs
Eastern Red-backed Salamander (Plethodon cinereus)