A large (8 inches; 20 cm), stout salamander with a blunt snout. The tail is compressed laterally and thick at the base. Coloration of adults is reddish orange or rusty brown, occasionally with a purple hue and usually with some darker brown marbling. Belly is white. A dark line extends from the eye to the nostril.
Eggs are laid in early spring. Larvae may take several years to complete metamorphosis.
Aquatic larvae, which are less stocky than adults and often pale in color. The dorsal pattern is more marbled than adults (see Klemens 1992). The larvae have well-developed gills.
As the common name implies, this is a species of freshwater springs and streams. Flowing water that is clean and cold is preferred. Klemens (1992) indicates that they are often found in forested hemlock ravines.
Various invertebrates and smaller amphibians.
The general range of the species is rather large, extending from Canada to northern Georgia. However, its specific habitat requirements mean that the actual distribution is spotty throughout its range. In Connecticut it is limited to a handful of sites in Litchfield, Hartford and Tolland counties (Klemens 1992).
Because it requires pristine water conditions, the Northern Spring Salamander is easily threatened by land use, including water and thermal pollution. It is listed as threatened in Connecticut.
Conant, R. and J.T. Collins. 1991. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern/Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 450 pp.
Klemens, M.W. 1993. Amphibians and Reptiles of Connecticut and Adjacent Regions. Hartford, CT: State Geological and Natural History Survey of Connecticut Bulletin 112. 318 pp.
Text by Gregory J. Watkins-Colwell.
Photographs © Twan Leenders. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Animals featured in photographs on this page are from New York.