Discover Maryland's Herps

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

Northern Dusky Salamander
(Desmognathus fuscus)

Adult photo of Northern Dusky Salamander courtesy of Ed Thompson
Adult Photo of Northern Dusky Salamander courtesy of Ed Thompson


  • 2 - 4 in. 

  • Record – 5 in.

  • Appearance

    Difficult to identify due to the highly variable coloration and pattern.

  • Grey to brown body.

  • Many individuals have a light stripe on the back extending from head to tail.

  • Younger individuals may have paired round yellowish spots bordered by a dark wavy band. 

  • In older individuals the spots are gone and the wavy band may be indistinguishable from the body color.

  • Two key features:

    1. a light line extends from the eye to the angle of the jaw, and
    2. a keeled tail, somewhat triangular in cross section. Base of tail is typically lighter than the rest of the back.
  • Habitat photo of Northern Dusky Salamander courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers
    Habitat Photo for Northern Dusky Salamander
    courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers


  • Most common along the edges of woodland streams under flat rocks and coarse woody debris.

  • May also be found in springs and seepage areas in woodlands. 

  • Usually found in or immediately adjacent to water.

  • Maryland Distribution Map
    Maryland Distribution Map of Northern Dusky Salamander

    Return to Field Guide to Maryland Salamanders

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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.