Red Backed Salamander
The small salamanders shown above could easily be mistaken for earthworms, but unlike the worm in the top of the picture they have legs. Red Backed salamanders spend most of their time hinding under logs and rocks. If you want to find them begin your search by carefully turning over logs or large stones on wooded hillsides. CAUTION - reptiles also spend their time under similar objects so use care. Also be careful when replacing the object so you do not injure the organisms living under them.
|This species has two common color phases. In the "redback" phase there is a red or brownish red stripe
down the middle of the back. The "leadback" phase is black to dark gray. In both phases the belly is
speckled with gray and white. Often you will find animals that intergrade between the two phases.
This species is found in mixed hardwood or confierous forests. They spend most of their time under logs and other debris on the forest floor. They tend to be most active at night when they can sometimes be found foraging on the forest floor. They eat a variety of insects and their larvae as well as earthworms.
This species does not require water to reproduce and the larval stages are passed in eggs that are laid in moist habitats, such as under logs. The eggs are deposited in a cluster in early summer. The female remains with the eggs to help keep them moist and guard them against predators. The young salamanders hatch in one to two months. When they hatch they still have small gill buds that gradually disappear.
The "leadback" phase of this species can be confused with the ravine salamander which has a dark back and a dark gray belly. When picked up red-backed salamanders will wiggle and try to avoid being turned over. This makes it difficult to see their belly. When captured by a potential predator, it is not uncommon for them to detach a portion of their tail. This saves their lives and can easily be regrown.