Caudata

Field Guide to Maryland's Salamanders and Newts  (Order Caudata)


Eastern Red-backed Salamander

Family: Eastern Red-backed Salamander (Plethodon cinereus)

Common Name:
Eastern Red-backed Salamander

Scientific Name:
Plethodon cinereus

Eastern Red-back Salamander - Lead-backed and Red-backed morphs courtesy of Mark Tegges
Photo of Eastern Red-backed Salamander Lead-backed
and Red-backed morphs courtesy of Mark Tegges


Size:
  • 2¼ - 4 in. 
  • Record - 5 in.

Appearance:

Two color variants occur in Maryland.

  • The “redback” has a straight-edged reddish stripe (sometimes orange, yellow or dark grey) running the length of its back from the base of the head to tail, with dark sides.
  • The “leadback” is uniformly dark gray to black. 
  • Both have mottled bellies of black and white or “salt and pepper”, and both can be found under the same log.

Habitat:

Photo 5: Habitat photo of Eastern Red-Backed Salamander courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers
Habitat photo for Eastern Red-backed Salamander courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers

  • Any forested area, where they are typically found during the daytime under rocks, logs and other coarse woody debris, where they lay their eggs. 
  • This is the most common terrestrial salamander in Maryland.

How to Find:

Distribution in Maryland:
Maryland Distribution Map of Eastern Red-backed Salamander