Eastern Red-backed Salamander

Plethodon cinereus Eastern Red-backed Salamander

This species belongs to a family of salamanders without lungs. It breathes through its skin and mucous membranes.

Identification

General description: The red to red-orange stripe running from the head to the tail of this salamander is distinctive. Their sides are dark, often with gray-blue spots.

Size: Usually less than 3 inches long

 

Reproduction

Red backed salamander: Eggs can be seen through the skin of this plump, gravid female.
Eggs can be seen through the skin of this plump, gravid female.

Red-backed Salamanders are unique among Minnesota's salamanders, as they lay eggs terrestrially and larvae develop inside the egg before emerging as fully formed miniature adults.

 

Habitat and range

Unlike most salamanders that spend at least part of their life in the water, Eastern red-backed salamanders are completely terrestrial.

Four-toed and Eastern Red-backed Salamander ventral (bottom) view.
Four-toed salamanders (top) can be easily distinguished from the similar appearing Eastern Red-backed Salamander (bottom) by looking at their bellies.