Slimy Salamander Complex

Photo by Pierson Hill

Species in Complex: Tellico salamander (Plethodon aureolus), Chattahoochee slimy salamander (Plethodon chattahoochee), Atlantic coast slimy salamander (Plethodon chlorobryonis), white-spotted slimy salamander (Plethodon cylindraceus), northern slimy salamander (Plethodon glutinosus), southen Appalachian salamander (Plethodon teyahalee)

:  The slimy salamander was formerly considered a single species but has since been divided into a complex of closely related species.  Six of these species may be found in North Carolina but they are often indistinguishable in the field.  All slimy salamanders are dark grey to black, usually with white or brassy spots on the back and sides.  The size, shape, and color of the spots may vary between species as well as between individuals.  Slimy salamanders get their name from the extremely sticky skin secretions that they use to deter predators.

Habitat/Range:  Slimy salamanders are entirely terrestrial.  In North Carolina, these salamanders are most abundant in moist forest floor habitats in deciduous forests but may be found in pine forests, bottomland hardwood forests, and caves.  Plethodon chlorobryonis is found in the coastal plain while P. cylindraceus is found throughout the piedmont and northern Blue Ridge Mountains.  Plethodon aureolus, P. chattahoochee, P. glutinosus, and P. teyahalee are found only in extreme southwestern North Carolina.

Diet:  Slimy salamanders feed primarily at night and consume a wide variety of invertebrates.  Slimy salamanders will occasionally consume smaller salamanders, including individuals of their own species.

Reproduction:  Slimy salamanders lay their eggs on land under logs or in underground cavities.  The female then guards the eggs until hatching.  Slimy salamander hatchlings do not go through an aquatic larval stage.  Instead, when young salamanders emerge from their eggs they look like miniature adults.

Back to Salamanders of North Carolina
Back to Herps of North Carolina

Refer to the habitat/range section of the text for descriptions of the species' ranges.

Northern slimy salamander.
Photo by JD Willson

Southern Appalachian salamander.
Photo by Kristen Cecala

White-spotted slimy salamander.
Photo by Aubrey Heupel

Tellico salamander.
Photo by D Dennis

Atlantic coast slimy salamander.
Photo by Grant Connette

This website created by: J. Willson, Y. Kornilev, W. Anderson, G. Connette and E. Eskew.
For comments or questions contact M. Dorcas:
M. Dorcas homepage:
Davidson College, Davidson, North Carolina 28035-7118.

Partial Funding for this website provided by a Associate Colleges of the South, National Science Foundation, and Duke Energy.