Discover Maryland's Herps

Field Guide to Maryland's Salamanders and Newts
(Order Caudata)

Sillouette of salamanderSalamanders and Newts
21 species in Maryland

Salamanders and newts are nocturnal and secretive animals with long slender bodies, long tails and in most cases, two pairs of legs. Life cycles include animals that are totally aquatic, totally terrestrial, and in between--spending time both on land and in water. Habitats include rivers, lakes, streams, ponds, swamps, underground caves, under rocks and logs, some animals burrow and some climb trees. Their skin is actually a respiratory surface, allowing oxygen to enter the body. The outer layer of skin is frequently shed and usually eaten. Salamanders and newts eat a varied diet including small invertebrates, insects, slugs, snails, and worms. They in turn provide food and are eaten by shrews, birds, snakes, other salamanders, beetles, centipedes, and spiders.

Biologists studying newts and salamanders have found that many of these animals have remarkable orientation and homing abilities. These animals can disperse from their birth places to several kilometers away or more. Other studies demonstrated that individual animals were able to find their way back to the exact stretch of stream where they were caught. Vision and smell seem to be important to navigation but even blind individuals find their way. Biologists think that the pineal body in the brain is sensitive to light and aids these animals in navigating by cuing them in to the sun’s position in the sky even on cloudy days. Other studies have shown that cave salamanders and red-spotted newts can detect the earth’s magnetic field and will use it as a navigation cue.

Salamander and Newt Anatomy

Click on a picture or species name for profiles
of each of the 21 species of Maryland’s salamanders.

  Common Name Scientific Name State Status

Eastern Tiger Salamander, photo courtesy of

Eastern Tiger Salamander Ambystoma tigrinum tigrinum Endangered

Jefferson Salamander, photo courtesy of John White

Jefferson Salamander Ambystoma jeffersonianum  Watchlist

Marbled Salamander, photo courtesy of

Marbled Salamander  Ambystoma opacum  

Spotted Salamander, photo courtesy of John White

Spotted Salamander Ambystoma maculatum  

Eastern Hellbender, photo courtesy of John White

Eastern Hellbender Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis Endangered
Common Mudpuppy, photo courtesy of Common Mudpuppy Necturus maculosus maculosus

Endangered/
Extirpated

Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander, photo courtesy of Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander Desmognathus ochrophaeus  
Northern Dusky Salamander, photo courtesy of John White Northern Dusky Salamander Desmognathus fuscus  
Seal Salamander, photo courtesy of Seal Salamander Desmognathus monticola  
Long-tailed Salamander, photo courtesy of Long-tailed Salamander Eurycea longicauda longicauda  
Northern Two-lined Salamander, photo courtesy of John White Northern Two-lined Salamander Eurycea bislineata  
Northern Spring Salamander, photo courtesy of Northern Spring Salamander Gyrinophilus porphyriticus porphyriticus  
Eastern Mud Salamander, photo courtesy of Eastern Mud Salamander Pseudotriton montanus montanus  
Northern Red Salamander, photo courtesy of John White Northern Red Salamander Pseudotriton ruber ruber  
Four-Toed Salamander, photo courtesy of John White Four-Toed Salamander Hemidactylium scutatum  
Green Salamander, photo courtesy of Green Salamander Aneides aeneus Endangered
Eastern Red-backed Salamanders, photo courtesy of Eastern Red-backed Salamander Plethodon cinereus  
Northern Slimy Salamander, photo courtesy of John White Northern Slimy Salamander Plethodon glutinosus  

Valley and Ridge Salamander, photo courtesy of John White

Valley and Ridge Salamander Plethodon hoffmani  
Wehrle’s Salamander, photo courtesy of Wehrle’s Salamander Plethodon wehrlei In Need of Conservation
Red-Spotted Newt, photo courtesy of Red-Spotted Newt Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens  
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Maryland Amphibian
and Reptile Atlas Project

"A Joint Project of the Natural History Society of Maryland, Inc. and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources"

For monthly newsletters of the Maryland Amphibian & Reptile Atlas Project click on Recent Newsletters and scroll down to the MARA Newsletters.

The Maryland Herpetology Field Guide is a cooperative effort of the MD Natural Heritage Program and the MD Biological Stream Survey within the Department of Natural Resources and their partners. We wish to thank all who contributed field records, text, and photographs, as well as support throughout its development.