Discover Maryland's Herps

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

Seal Salamander
(Desmognathus monticola)

Adult photo courtesy of David Kazyak
Adult Photo of Seal Salamander courtesy of David Kazyak

Photo 1: Adult photo of Seal Salamander courtesy of Jay Kilian
Adult Photo of Seal Salamander courtesy of Jay Kilian


  • 3 - 5 in. 

  • Record – 5 ⅞ in.

  • Appearance

  • Stout salamander with a keeled tail and pointed tip.

  • Mottled back that’s variable in color, usually dark brown or blackish markings on a gray or light brown background. 

  • The belly is white or light gray, with uniform gray or light brown markings. 

  • Sometimes, a single row of white dots appears on the sides, between the legs.

  • Habitat photo courtesy of Matt Kline
    Habitat Photo for Seal Salamander courtesy of Matt Kline


  • Preferred habitat includes the rocky banks of mountain streams with well-aerated water. 

  • Cool, hardwood-shaded ravines and spring-fed brooks.

  • Always found close to water.

  • Burrows during the day.

  • At night, it can be found at the opening of its burrow in the stream bank or perched on a wet rock.

  • Maryland Distribution Map
    Maryland Distribution Map of Seal 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.