Red-backed Salamander
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The lead-back phase of the red-backed salamander.
This individual is from Pennsylvania

Online Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Connecticut

Red-backed Salamander - Plethodon cinereus


A small, slender salamander with a maximum length of 5 inches (12.7 cm) (see Klemens 1992). The body is slender and the legs are small to the point that, at first glance, the species can be confused with an earthworm. Coloration varies widely, but 2 distinct color morphs are known: the red-back and the lead-back phase. The 2 phases are not geographically isolated from each other and can, in fact, be found under the same log.


Clutches of 4 to 12 soft eggs are laid under logs or rocks. The female often guards the eggs until hatching; there is direct development of the embryos. There is no aquatic larval stage. Juveniles are very small.


Generally found under rocks or logs in woodland habitat, often on hillsides, but also frequently found under debris in disturbed areas or in urban or suburban yards.



Feeds mainly on termites, ants and other small invertebrates.



Widespread throughout the northeastern United States.



Not specifically protected. The most common amphibian species 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 Connecticut and Pennsylvania.