Four-toed Salamander (Hemidactylium scutatum)

Description: This small, slender salamander is orange to grayish brown above, sometimes with small black and bluish speckles on the sides. The tail is constricted (narrows) at its base, and there are only four toes on each hind foot (most salamanders have five toes). Adults are 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) long. (Note that these salamanders may lose portions of their tails during encounters with predators).

Four-toed Salamander
Photo © Jim Harding

Habitat/Habits: Found throughout much of the state, but only where boggy ponds or spring fed creeks are available in or near damp wooded habitat. When not breeding, they take refuge under rotting logs and leaf litter. They eat insects and insect larvae, spiders, worms, and other small invertebrates.

Breeding: The female lays her eggs in spring, in a clump of moss, leaf litter, or rotting wood overhanging a pond, creek, or seepage. She usually attends the eggs during the month or two of incubation; occasionally more than one female will lay eggs at the same site. Upon hatching, the larvae drop into the water and complete development, with metamorphosis occurring in about six weeks.

Conservation: The spotty distribution of the Four toed Salamander is probably due to the specialized breeding habitat it requires. As humans modify the landscape, the salamander populations can become isolated and vulnerable to extinction. Preserving the boggy habitats of this species will also protect many other unique animals and plants.

Related Documents
Four-toed Salamander Occurrence Map PDF icon