Neuse River Waterdog
Necturus lewisi

Photo by Jerry Reynolds

Description: The Neuse River waterdog (Necturus lewisi) is a fairly large salamander; adults typically grow to a length of about eleven inches. It has a reddish brown body with an irregular pattern of large blue or black spots. The waterdog has a laterally compressed tail the same coloration as the body, however, the belly is typically a dull brown or gray color with spots similar to those seen elsewhere on the body. This species, like the other members of the genus Necturus, has four toes on its front and back feet as well as a set of large feathery gills. As juveniles, Neuse River waterdogs are spotted like the adults but the basic body color is gray.  Young individuals may also have a lighter stripe along the back with darker colored sides and black flecking. Larvae for this species are entirely brown except for two white spots, one behind each eye.

Habitat/Range: Neuse River waterdogs are fully aquatic salamanders found in the Neuse River watershed of Northeastern North Carolina. These waterdogs live in both streams and rivers. Typical habitats include areas with leaf litter as well as stream reaches with harder clay or soil beds. Logjams serve as particularly good habitats for these salamanders. Stream pollution and clearing of logjams both threaten the species. The Neuse River waterdog remains mostly hidden during the day, coming out to forage at night. It is most active during the fall and spring.

Diet: Neuse River waterdogs will eat most animals that are small enough for them to catch and swallow. They have been known to eat snails, worms, spiders, and small fish among other prey.

Reproduction: The Neuse River waterdog mates from late fall through winter. Females lay clusters of 4-40 eggs in April and May, and males often guard the eggs until they hatch in June, July, or August. Egg clusters are commonly attached underneath objects in the streambed such as logs or rocks.

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

The shaded region represents the range of the Neuse River waterdog in North Carolina.


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.