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16 Types of Salamanders, Explained

Yellow salamander on logWhat is a salamander? There are a whopping 500 species of amphibians that can be classified as salamanders. Salamanders are similar in shape and size to lizards – with a slender body and long tail. What differentiates them from the typical lizard? Salamanders won’t always have four limbs, and can often be seen slithering along without them. They are also commonly brightly colored, although underground species may simply be white or pink in color Let’s take a look at some of the more common species of salamander.

Types of Salamanders

Tiger Salamander

The Tiger salamander (Ambystoma Tigrinum), can reach lengths of a foot and longer, and is frequently colored with a yellow variation of spots and stripes. You’ll find the Tiger salamander in the continental U.S. as well as parts of Mexico, hiding in mountaneous and lowland areas. They tend to avoid the water, preferring the shelter of rocks and boulders.

What does a Tiger salamander eat? Tiger salamanders will eat small insects, worms, snails, etc. – pretty much anything that crawls along the ground.

What is a Tiger salamander’s reproductive behavior? This is one of the few times that a male Tiger salamander will approach the water – to attract a female. After a short 24 hours following the transfer of the salamander’s spermatophores, the female will lay over one thousand eggs, which can take up to two weeks to develop.

Flatwoods Salamander

Spotted salamanderThe Flatwoods salamander (Ambystoma cingulatum) is much smaller than the Tiger salamander, measuring in at a mere 1/3 of a foot on average. It lives primarily in the Southwestern U.S., in pine forests, and will lay eggs that develop in three to five weeks.

Northwestern Salamander

The Northwestern salamander (Ambystoma gracile) measures in somewhere between the Tiger and Flatwoods salamanders, at just over half a foot. You’ll find it in the Northwestern U.S., as well as parts of Canada, in particular British Columbia. Unlike the Tiger salamander, the Northwestern salamander prefers wet and damp areas. It’s eggs develop in two to four weeks, and reach maturity in 1 to 2 years.

Jefferson Salamander

The Jefferson salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum) measures in at about the same length as the Northwestern salamander, at just over half a foot. It also lives in the Northwestern U.S and Canada, likes the water and lives in forests as well. It’s eggs take a bit longer to develop – four to six weeks, but typically reach maturity in just under half a year.

Long-Toed Salamander

The Long-toed salamander (Ambystoma macrodactylum) also lives in the Northwestern USA and Canada. It prefers deciduous, green areas. The long-toed salamander eggs develop in two to six months and reach maturity in six months to a year.

Cave Salamander

The cave salamander (Eurycea lucifuga) is also known as the spotted tail salamander. This salamander measures between 10 to 20 cm in length and its skin is marked with irregularly spaced dashes and dots. The cave salamander has a prehensile tail and is native to Alabama, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Kansas. As its name implies, this species prefers to live anywhere from the mouth of a cave to deep in to the cave. These salamanders can also be found in various rocky outcrops and in forests. Little is known about the egg laying habits of the cave salamander.

Red Hills Salamander

The red hills salamander (Phaeognathus hubrichti) is the official state amphibian of the state of Alabama. This salamander is a terrestrial salamander and has been known to grow as long as 10 inches long. This is a gray brown salamander that has coloration almost like a worm. This salamander species is found in two specific geographic locations in southern Alabama. The red hills salamander prefers to live on the slopes of ravines and in siltstone crevices. Males of this species are mature within a year whereas females take a year to become sexually mature.

The Northern Zigzag Salamander

The northern zigzag salamander (Plethodon dorsalis) is identifiable from the zigzagging stripe down its back which is either red or yellow in appearance. This salamander also has orange markings around the base of its front legs. The northern zigzag salamander grows to around 11 cm long and is found throughout the United States. This salamander prefers living in damp rocky forests and around cave entrances.

Red-legged Salamander

The red-legged salamander (Plethodon shermani) is a dark grey lizard that is identified by its bright red legs and light grey cheeks. This salamander species measures anywhere between 3 ¼ and 7 ¼ inches long. The red-legged salamander lives in moisture rich forests preferring to live in mossy logs. This salamander species is prevalent in the extreme southwestern corner of North Carolina.

Van Dyke’s Salamander

Van Dyke’s salamander (Plethodon vandykei) grows up to 6.2 cm long and has a dark colored underbelly. The topside of this salamander varies in color depending upon the local climate of the habitat of the salamander but can be rose and salmon, yellow and orange or yellow striped with black sides. The Van Dyke’s salamander is most active at night and is most often found near water bodies living underneath logs, tree bark and rocks. This salamander species is most often found in Washington, Montana and Idaho.

Weller’s Salamander

Weller’s salamander (Plethodon welleri) has a black body with brass colored blotches over the body and a dark underbelly. This endangered salamander species is found in Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina where it prefers the habitat of spruce forests. This is a nocturnally active salamander that lives under rocks and feeds on various nocturnally active invertebrates. The biggest threat to this endangered salamander is the destruction of its limited high altitude spruce forest habitat.

Wehrle’s Salamander

Wehrle’s salamander (Plethodon wehrlei) is a large salamander that measures between 10 and 17 cm long. The base color of this species is blue-black and it has large white spots on its back while it has a solid grey tail base and underbelly. This is a nocturnal salamander species that lives on the Appalachian Plateau hillsides where it can be found hiding underneath rocks or by the entrances of caves. Wehrle’s salamander is known to have webbed hind feet.

Green Salamander

The green salamander or (Aneides aeneus) is the only salamander within its genus to live in the eastern United States. This species is considered to be near threatened as far as conservation status. The green salamander ranges between 8 to 12 cm in length and is light blue to yellow in color with green blotches on its skin that look like lichen. This species prefers to live in moist and shaded areas such as in rock crevices and are located from southwestern Pennsylvania down to northern Alabama and northeastern Mississippi.

Clouded Salamander

The clouded salamander (Aneides ferreus) grows to around 5 inches in length and has a pale gray coloration with gold, red or olive green blotches. Younger species of the clouded salamander also features a brass colored streak on its back which disappears as the species ages. The clouded salamander has a prehensile tale and longer legs than many other salamander species. This salamander species can be found in the western United States from the Columbia River to the northern tip of California. This salamander lives under rocks and logs. Eggs of the clouded salamander hatch within two months and before hatching the eggs can be cared for by one or both parents. The clouded salamander is considered to be of near threatened conservation status.

Wandering Salamander

The wandering salamander (Aneides vagrans) looks similar in appearance to the clouded salamander and grows to a total length of 5 inches. This salamander species has a prehensile tail and can be found clambering in trees. The wandering salamander varies in color from brown to grey and features bronze markings that can be marbled, mottled or speckled on the salamanders back. As with the clouded salamander, young wandering salamanders also have a bronze stripe down their backs. This salamander species is found in Oregon, northern California and on Vancouver Island. The wandering salamander can be found living on forested lands or forest edges but also thrives on recently cleared forest areas. This salamander species is considered to be of near threatened conservation status.

Arboreal Salamander

The arboreal salamander (Aneides lugubris) grows between 6.5 and 10 cm long and is purple to brown in color with yellow or gold spotting or no spotting at all. This arboreal salamander has a prehensile tail which makes it a particularly talented tree climber. This is a nocturnal species that is most often found living within oak tree cavities. Male arboreal salamanders have a large triangle shaped head and have front teeth that protrude beyond the bottom lip. Adult salamanders of this species have a particularly painful bite.

Salamander FAQ

What Should I Feed my Salamander?

According to our research, you can feed them one cricket a day. You can buy crickets by the dozen at your local pet store. They might also have additional advice based on your specific type of salamander.

Depending on the type of salamander you have, they may also eat worms, meal worms, live crickets (before you feed them to your salamander keep them some where else to restore nutrients. You can feed the crickets dog food, weird I know), night crawlers, leaf worms, red worms, and black worms.

Where Should I Keep my Salamander?

We’re not Salamander experts, but our readers tell us you can keep them in a tank with some rocks and shells, a log for them to hide in, and some water on the bottom. If your salamander is a semi-salamander (hybrid), they’ll need both water and land. Finally, you should keep salamanders in separate cages.

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About Alex Schenker
Alex loves nature and does his best to take care of the planet. He doesn't take for granted the serenity that can be found in the stillness of an ancient forest, or the majestic power of the ocean's large waves as they crash on an isolated island shoreline. He wants to raise awareness for how simple it can be to make a couple changes in your everyday life that can make a huge difference for the environment in the long term.
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  • suan wu

    Good article, thanks for the information.

  • Tommy Van

    I have two striped salamanders how do I tell a male from a female?

    • Tommy, gender characteristics of salamanders are very subtle but there are a few ways to tell. Males have slightly longer and thicker tails than females and have a small fin on top. If you have two of the same sex, perhaps you can take them to a pet store and compare there. Hope that helps!

  • Kenneth Edwards

    Please help, due to recent floods I rescued a tiger salamander but i need someone to take him – his name is Pickles.

  • chocolate

    I’ve seen stuff about spotted salamanders and this website says it is not a type of salamander.

  • hi

    I have seen stuff about spotted salamanders and on this website it says that a spotted salamander is not a type of salamander.

    • Hi, we do mention the spotted tail salamander which is commonly referred to as the cave salamander (Eurycea lucifuga). Was there a different type of spotted salamander we missed? If so please let us know more and we can update the article! Thanks for reading!

  • Juan

    My salamander is all black with yellow spots what type is it

    • Juan, it’s most likely a spotted salamander or yellow-spotted salamander (aka Ambystoma maculatum).

  • jim

    6-8″ long, dull coloration bluish grey on top yellow streaks on belly. We are in Manitoba, where websites list only 2 skinks, neither of which looks like him/her. Probably living in a sand pile, probably eating crickets.

  • saralynn

    What do I feed if it has a red back? How can I tell the gender? What do i give it? How small is a baby? What if this is a rare baby with a red back and it dies?

    • wayne

      Eastern redbacked salamander males grow to 2” female 4” eat slugs, cricket, bloodworm. No hotter than 75 degrees, soil to dig, moss, climbing sticks and a tight lid with air vents. NO LIGHT ON TANK. Want more? Check ebay.

      • kacey

        Thanks for sharing! Very good!

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  • Bob Norwood

    What is the name of the salamander that is translucent pink with bright pink spots? We have one in our greenhouse.

    • MapleStory Mesos

      Useful information shared. I am very happy to read this article..thanks for giving us nice information.Fantastic walk-through.

  • Emily G.

    I found some salamanders in a creek while trap fishing for minnow. Details: They are brown with a tan stripe down the back. They have fuzzy things on each side of their heads. Their heads are shaped kind of like a long box. They are either really small (about an inch) or babies. I hope this helps you to tell me what they are. Thank you.

    • Silvia

      It’s probably a Cope’s Giant Salamander. Look it up on Google Images. It’s got the fuzzy things on it’s head, so it’s probably that one!

  • brandy

    My salamander is a green color with like black strip what kind is he? And how do I know if it needs more water?

  • a guest

    I have a salamander I got a week before Halloween. I found him in the woods in Oakridge. He is a tanish brown on the top and a dark orange on the bottom. His colors were brighter when I found him, it seems like they have darkened since I got him. Is that a bad thing? I’m keeping my salamander in a tank without a lid, on my back porch. He has about two inches of water in the bottom of the tank. He also has a banana peel, two rocks, a ladybug [dead], and some fish food I put in about 45 min ago. He is cute and fun! My mom hates him so I can’t bring him in the house. His name is pumpkin pie. Please help me how ever you can to help him.

    • a guest

      If possible, try to keep temperatures in the tank between 74 and 86 degrees during the day and 65 degrees to 72 degrees at night. Feed him crickets, mealworms, butterworms, and earthworms (you can buy these at a local reptile shop if you can’t find them in the ground). Try not to hold or pet him, as the oils from our hands can be toxic to salamanders. You’ll probably want to add a plant to your tank. If you’re worried that he’s not doing well it might be best to release him back into the wild. Good luck, let us know how it goes!

  • a guest

    You have a great website. I will remember it so if I need any help with any kind of reptile I will look on your website.

  • a guest

    I found an orange-ish red salamander about 8 inches long with black spots. I never saw one like this before. Was wondering if this is a rare find and what type it may be?

  • Anonymous

    I found a salamander on the east coast of Quebec, just below Labrador. It is black with yellow spots. Anyone know what kind of salamander this might be?

    • reptile dude

      It is called a spotted salamander.

    • a guest

      The only way I remember to identify this particular kind of salamander is black+yellow=spotted salamander.

    • a guest

      I think it is a Jefferson Salamander. I’m not 100% sure but I hope you can find out what kind of salmander it is. Good luck!

  • Anonymous

    Okay, I have a brown salamander with a rectangular shape to its figure. What kind is he? [p.s he is a baby]. And can a green Anole lizard live with a salamander? I also have two heating lamps. Does my salamander need one? I am looking for an expert two answer this. Or if your sure of your answer, help me!!

  • Anonymous

    I need to know if my lizard is a salamander and if it is – can it eat carrots?

    • a guest

      I feel your pain I found a little salamander, like a lizard. We are adding on to our house. It is brown and super tiny, maybe a baby. The worker who found it said it might bite, but I don’t know much and this web site is NOT helping in any way. Good luck 😛

  • Anonymous

    I found it in my house. It’s black with yellow stripes on the way down his back and blue on his tail. Can someone tell me if it’s poisonous or not? Can’t seem to catch him, so what do I do now?

  • Anonymous

    I just found a salamander and I’m not sure what type it is. It has blacky brown sides that almost look like a rattle snake. And then a light goldy beige back. With an arrow head shaped head. If anyone knows what type it is it would be awesome to know! (:

  • Anonymous

    I am trying to figure out if I can put a blue spotted salamander in with a yellow spotted one!? Please help! I can’t find any info to tell me if two different kinds will get along okay!

    • treehugger

      I think you probably want to keep them separate until you’ve had a chance to consult a local reptile expert.

    • Katrina Roberts

      Never ever put one salamander with another. I did it once, and they fought to the death. It mostly depends on what breeds they are, but right now you more or likely want to separate them.

  • Anonymous

    I found a 12″ salamander and when it is frightened it blows fire, anyone know what kind it might be?

    • treehugger

      Pretty sure we’re looking at a baby dragon here 🙂 We recommend watching the movie How to Train Your Dragon for details on your “salamander” species.

  • Anonymous

    I need to know if you can put 2 female salamanders in the same cage. Also, if you put males in the same cage will they fight?

    • treehugger

      Feedback from our readers more experienced with salamanders suggests you should keep them in separate cages. Please ask your local reptile expert for specifics based on the types of salamander you have.

  • Anonymous

    Okay there are lots of salamanders at my house but I don’t know what kids they are! My kids are always out playing and I want to make sure they don’t hurt them. They are black with a light brown underbelly, some have tiny spots while others don’t. They are about 3-4 inches long. Can you help me?

  • Anonymous

    Ok, so I found this salamander underneath an old hay bale half covered in the dirt, it was very moist were I found him. I live in Kentucky and was wondering what type of salamander it was? It has a yellowish belly with a dark brown/dark green top side with very light yellow spots on the back. I also want to know what it eats. I thought crickets or worms but I’m not sure.

  • Anonymous

    I have 12 salamanders/newts in a fish tank right now. I found them in a lake. They are greenish brown on the back with orange spots and they have yellow spotted bellys and like a transluscent yellow tail, and in the center of the tail it’s just like their back. I want to know what type it is. It’s around 2″ not including the tail. Also what does it mean when their tummies are fat?

  • Anonymous

    I caught a painted turtle and it was a male. It was so cool.

  • Anonymous

    Okay, I found this salemanders in the woods while I was mushroom hunting and I don’t know anything about it. It’s brownish black and about 3 inches long and looks like a snake with legs. I put it in a big cage with muddy water and grass with a rock in the middle. But I don’t know what it eats. HELP!

    • Anonymous

      Well they eat fish food and will sometimes eat small fruit flies. Just give it some fresher water. Not too muddy it might not be a water salamander it could be a newt. I’m not an expert but I just got 12 salamanders myself and I need to know what it means when they’re really fat. I think it means eggs are on the way.

    • Anonymous

      In my experience, you can feed your salamander:

      * worms
      * centipedes
      * crickets
      * spiders
      * earthworms
      * slugs
      * insopods (potatobugs pillbugs)

      That’s about it. Good luck with your salamander!

      • treehugger

        This is a very useful list, as this question has been asked many times. Thanks so much for sharing your insight into salamander food!

    • Anonymous

      Well, it eats bugs. So just feed it stuff like crickets from a pet store.

    • Anonymous

      They eat worms, meal worms, crickets (live; before you feed them to your salamander keep them some where else to restore nutrients and feed them dog food, weird I know), night crawlers, leaf worms, red worms, and black worms. Hope this helps! 🙂 You should find out what kind they are because they might be semi-salamanders meaning that they need water and land to live. Also you should put them in seperate cages. 🙂

      • treehugger

        Thanks so much for taking the time to share your experience with a salamander’s diet with our readers! Your feedback is much appreciated 🙂

    • Anonymous

      Same thing happened to me. But I found one and kept it. I found mine in the woods. I’ve been trying to feed it earth worms and insects and find out what it drinks. For now I gave it water – so if someone has a better suggestion then please comment on this poor people’s quest to save a cute little critter!

  • Anonymous

    I found two salamanders, one is a brownish color with a golden brown back and the other is solid black. They are 2 inches long. I am currently using a glass cage I had for two Anole lizards and I still have a mini tree and a bush thingy that sticks to the glass with a suction cup.

    I also have new mulch or dirt or what ever you want to call it I got at Petco for my other lizards. I also have day/night lamps that I used with my other lizards. I am hoping I have everything I need besides food. So if you could tell me what type they are, what they eat, and what I need to do to their cage like spray it with water or anything like that I would apriciate it and I’m sure they would too. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Hey I found two salamanders outside and they’re about 2 inches long, and one of them is a brownish color with a golden brown back and the other one is completely black. Can anyone tell me what type of salamanders they are? I used to have two Anole lizards, but I still have the cage, heating day/night lamps, water bowl/rock, spray bottle, mini trees, and thermometer. Can you also tell me the temperature and humidity the cage should be, what they eat, and how often I need to clean the cage?

  • Anonymous

    Hi my friend found 2 salamanders under a log at school today and I was wondering what kind it was and what it ate. I wanted to get 1 and it has a reddish pink with a little gray on top and same color on the bottom. Could you tell me what it ate so I could see if I could have 1? thanks

  • Anonymous

    I have one and I can’t find anything on it 🙁 Help me out? It’s a dark brown with a stripe of dark yellowish-brown from its head to tale, and it has little white dots everywhere. I found it in our ditch, which is dried out right now.

  • Anonymous

    I found a salamander in a cold creek. It is pretty small, about 3″ long and brown. I Didn’t see it in detail because it was very quick but I was wondering what type it may be. Thank YOU!

  • Anonymous

    The salamander I have is… Well I don’t really have him. He lives outside but everyday I will try to pick them up (there’s 3). And everyday I try to tame them because they’re wild. But anyway, they are brown on the top and black on the sides. So if you could tell me what type they are I would greatly appreciate it!!!

    🙂 ~Robyn C.

  • Anonymous

    Okay my uncle came home from Kentucky on a work trip and he brought me and my little brother a salamander. It’s black with many yellow stripes going all the way around its back. Its belly is yellow, and it’s got a narrow nose. It’s approximately 5 inches long. Any idea what kind of salamander this might be? Please help.

    • Anonymous

      What you have here is a fire salamander.

  • Anonymous

    My dog just caught what I think is a salamander. It is approx 4″ long and has the marks and coloring of a garter snake. Does anyone know what it is??

    • Anonymous

      I hope you find out if it is a salamander!! (good luck finding out!)

      A person of the world! *tee hee*

  • Anonymous

    I found a red and black salamander under a rock in the woods near my house. I gave it a worm to eat.

  • Anonymous

    I found a small salamander today that has a gray stomach and black back with brown eyes. He is approximately 3 inches long and very lively. What type of salamander is he?

    • Anonymous

      Me and my sister found 2 salamanders and they are just like your description of what you found!! Did you find out what type of salamander it was? Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    I found a little gray salamander about 3 inches long. He has a gray belly too. When I put him in a little warm water he curled up with his mouth open, does that mean he doesn’t like water?

  • Anonymous

    I found four little salamanders today and I was wondering what species they were and what they eat.

    The first and second are black with a grey-ish stomach all the way down to it’s tail, althought the underside of their chin chin is slightly yellow.

    The other two are really really dark blue (or black) with an orange stripe doing down their backs. In the orange stripe, there’s a smaller brown-ish stripe. they also have a grey-ish stomach.

    They’re really small so I think they’re babies (although it’s almost winter, so I don’t know how they hatched) Please help!!

    • Anonymous

      Me too I have 2 of them exactly like that. I’ve been trying really hard to find the breed but unfortunately with no success….

  • Anonymous

    My sister found me a Salamander a few days ago. I’ve been feeding it worms and insects. It likes them, but I’m wondering what kind of Salamander I might have here? It’s black with light blue all over on its tail and sides, but not too many on his back? Can you reply and tell me what kind it is and how to take care of it please.

    Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    I found this salamander in my back yard. It is brownish pink but the belly is white. I have it in an old tank with damp wood chips, about six to seven inches long.

    What should I feed it? And is this the type of habitat it lives in? Please help me, I’d love to keep it. Send me an email @ raudeltovar at yahoo dot com.

    Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    I think salamanders are cool!

  • Anonymous

    Okay my son just got a salamander outside. The salamander’s stomach is a pretty yellow with black spots, and the top is green with spots that are bright orange with black outlined on the orange.

    Now my son wants to keep it, so we are putting it in a fish tank with rocks, water, grass, and branches. But I have problems. What kind of reptile/ salamander is it? What do I feed it?

    Right now I have worms in the tank with him but he doesn’t seem to be eating them, and I don’t know what else to do. I do know I can’t let my son’s first reptile pet die.

    Can someone please help me!!!!!!

    • Anonymous

      They eat crickets and grass hoppers. Feed them to him every two to four days or he will die.

    • Anonymous

      Okay, thanks for explaining it. OK it may be a fire salamander. But it’s pretty dangerous as the skin looks toxic. But can you tell me how long it is? And, sometimes worms are not what they eat. Sometimes they prefer other bugs, depending on what they want.

      By the way, salamanders are amphibians, not reptiles.

    • Anonymous

      Salamanders are amphibians, not reptiles!

    • Anonymous

      Well, my friend gave me a salamander for my birthday and she told me to give it leaves and that it eats its own droppings. If you were wondering, a male has stripes and a female does not, so that’s how you can tell them apart.

      She also told me that both males and females lay eggs and that females can mate with each other, and so can males. Finally, give it water two times a day – just pour some water on it and they should reproduce.

    • Anonymous

      Crickets! Feed it crickets, one a day! You can buy them by the dozen at the pet store. My 7 year old son has 3 salamanders. We keep them in a tank with some rocks and shells, a log for them to hide in, and keep a little water on the bottom. We’ve had them almost a year, they seem happy. In fact we just took them in to show my sons class! Good luck!

      • treehugger

        Excellent advice, we’ll add this to the article. Thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge with our readers!

  • Anonymous

    Hi,

    Today I found a little red salamander in my moss bag I bought at the nursery. I use the moss to build my moss baskets with. The poor little thing was hiding under a large piece of moss. He or she looks like a snake at first but then you see his/her legs. His head has a very snake like look to it.

    I would like to help this creature to live and wonder if somebody can give me some advice as to what type of salamander it is and what I need to give it to be able to survive.

    Presently it is under a large fountain I have in our back yard. It’s very moist there and I put layers of moss under it and will place rotting logs under there as well. There will be plenty of bug and worms under there too. I would appreciate any help I can get with this problem and if anyone can help me how I can keep this very interesting little creature alive.

    Thank you,

    Loraine Greene

    • Anonymous

      Get a worm smaller than the salamander. It will eat it, but be sure to feed it as soon as you get the worm (ie. don’t let the worm spoil).