Seal Salamander
Desmognathus monticola

Common Name:

Seal Salamander

Scientific Name:

Desmognathus monticola

Etymology:

Genus:

desmos is Greek for  "ligament",  gnathos is Greek for "jaw"  - This refers to the bundle of ligaments holding the jaw.

Species:

monticola is Latin and means "mountaineer" or "highlander". This refers to the habitat where this salamander is found.

Average Length:

3.3 - 5 in. (8.3 - 12.5 cm)

Virginia Record Length:

Record length:

5.9 in. (14.9 cm)

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Robust; boldly patterned above; pale below; dorsum with strong black or dark brown markings on a ground of buff, gray or light brown; markings are extremely variable; venter white in juveniles becoming lightly and uniformly pigmented in old adults *1008*.

REPRODUCTION: Courtship in fall and spring; males sexually mature at 3.5 years; females sexually mature at 4.5 years; clutch size=27; eggs found June 16-September 4; eggs deposited in late spring and early summer; eggs hatch late summer and fall; remain with eggs through period of development to hatching; sex recognition may be related to aggressive behavior of males towards other males during courtship season; eggs attached either to underside of rocks or tree roots *953*. The eggs are attached individually by a single peduncle *10812*.

BEHAVIOR: Streambank species; inhabits banks of large and small streams at lower elevations; absent from headwaters of streams above 4300 feet; most nests in banks of aquatic sites; nest sites in the vicinity of rotting logs on stream banks; nests in the interstices between rocks; tranformed individuals hide in burrows in stream banks *953*; sometimes found in rocky streams, prefers muddier areas; enters water readily to escape danger *1008*; mainly nocturnal but sometimes appears in open in shady spots during daylight *883*; inhabits banks of swiftly flowing mountain streams *953,3817*.

ORIGIN: Native *953*.

POPULATION PARAMETERS: Survivorship of female similar to that of male *953*.

AQUATIC/TERRESTERIAL ASSOCIATIONS: Desmognathus quadramaculatus *953*; D. ochrophaeus; D. fuscus fuscus *953,1008,3817*; Plethodon cinereus cinereus; P. glutinosus; Rana sylvatica; Eurycea bislineata; Liriodendron sp.; Rhododendron sp.; Tsuga canadensis *953,970,3817*.

References for Life History

  • 883 - Conant, R., 1975, A field guide to reptiles and amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, 429 pgs., Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, MA
  • 953 - Organ, J.A., 1961, Studies of the local distribution, life history, and population dynamics of the salamander genus Desmognathus in Virginia, Ecol. Monogr., Vol. 31, pg. 189-220
  • 970 - Shealy, R.M., 1975, Factors influencing activity in the salamanders Desmognatus ochrophaeus and D. monticola (Plethodontidae), Herpetology, Vol. 31, pg. 94-102
  • 1008 - Barbour, R.W., 1971, Amphibians and reptiles of Kentucky, 334 pgs., Univ. of Kentucky Press, Lexington, KY
  • 3817 - Brandon, R.A., J.E. Huheey, 1971, Movements and interactions between two species of Desmognathus (Amphibia: Plethodontidae), Amer. Midland Naturalist, Vol. 86, pg. 86-92
  • 10812 - Organ, J.A., 1990, Salamander Survey Section One 1990, Prepared for the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, Jefferson National Forest, 40 pgs., Dept. of Bio. of the City College of New York, New York

Photos:

*Click on a thumbnail for a larger version.


Verified County/City Occurrence

Albemarle County
Alleghany County
Amherst County
Augusta County
Bath County
Bedford County
Bland County
Botetourt County
Buchanan County
Buckingham County
Buena Vista City
Campbell County
Carroll County
Charlottesville City
Clarke County
Clifton Forge City
Craig County
Dickenson County
Fauquier County
Floyd County
Franklin County
Giles County
Grayson County
Greene County
Henry County
Highland County
Lee County
Loudoun County
Lynchburg City
Madison County
Montgomery County
Nelson County
Page County
Patrick County
Pittsylvania County
Pulaski County
Rappahannock County
Roanoke County
Rockbridge County
Rockingham County
Russell County
Scott County
Smyth County
Tazewell County
Warren County
Washington County
Waynesboro City
Wise County
Wythe County
Verified in 49 Counties/Cities.



FROGS

Virginia is home to 28 species of frogs and toads.

SALAMANDERS

We have a large diversity of salamanders consisting of 56 different species and subspecies.

LIZARDS

Virginia is home to 9 native lizard species and two introduced species, the Mediterranean Gecko and the Italian Wall Lizard.

SNAKES

The Commonwealth is home to 34 species and subspecies of snake. Only 3 species are venomous.

TURTLES

Virginia has 25 species and subspecies of turtle. Five of these species are sea turtle.