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

Northern Dusky Salamander

Family: Caudata

Common Name:

​Northern Dusky Salamander

Scientific Name:

​(Desmognathus fuscus)

Adult Photo of Northern Dusky Salamander courtesy of Ed Thompson

  • 2½ - 4½ in.
  • Record – 5 in.


Difficult to identify due to the highly variable coloration and pattern.

  • Grey to brown body.
  • Many individuals have a light stripe on the back extending from head to tail.
  • Younger individuals may have paired round yellowish spots bordered by a dark wavy band.
  • In older individuals the spots are gone and the wavy band may be indistinguishable from the body color.
  • Two key features:
    1. a light line extends from the eye to the angle of the jaw, and
    2. a keeled tail, somewhat triangular in cross section. Base of tail is typically lighter than the rest of the back.

Habitat Photo for Northern Dusky Salamander
courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers

How to Find:
  • Most common along the edges of woodland streams under flat rocks and coarse woody debris.
  • May also be found in springs and seepage areas in woodlands.
  • Usually found in or immediately adjacent to water.

Distribution in Maryland: