AMPHIBIANS OF THE METRO AREA
METROPOLITAN  NATURALIST
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Red-Backed Salamander (Plethodon cinereus)


This very common woodland salamander has two color phases, shown together in the photo.
The salamander with the grey back (top) is called the "lead-backed" color phase, while the other
is called the "red-backed" color phase. Both color phases are often found together under the
same log.

This is probably our most common salamander. Red-backed Salamanders are easily found by
turning over logs and stones in damp woods. These amphibians are even found in wooded lots
and parks in Baltimore City.

These salamanders do not have an aquatic stage in their the life cycle. When the eggs hatch,
the young salamanders look like miniatures of the adult, there is no gilled aquatic larval stage as
in newts, spotted salamanders and some others.

Eggs are laid inside damp logs or under logs, boards, or stones. The mother salamander stays
with the eggs and is often found wrapped around the cluster of small round eggs.

These salamanders are carnivores, eating small insects, arachnids, and worms.
Red-Backed Salamander (Plethodon cinereus) red and black color phases
Red-Backed Salamander (Plethodon cinereus) red color phase
Red-Backed Salamander (Plethodon cinereus) black color phase
Red-Backed Salamander (Plethodon cinereus) black color phase
It is not unusual to find both color phases of the red-backed salamander together.  Here we
see a "lead-backed" and "red-backed" color phase side by side.