Long-tailed salamander

Class: Reptilia
Order: Caudata
Family: Plethodontidae
Genus and Species: Eurycea longicauda
  • A long skinny yellow salamander with intricate black markings scattered about
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Long-tailed salamander

True to their name, a long-tailed salamander's tail takes up more than half of its body length. They range along the eastern United States, in creek beds, caves, streams and ponds.

Physical Description

Long-tailed salamanders are often yellow, but can range in color to red, orange and brown and have irregular dots and dashes along their bodies and tails. They have large eyes, slender bodies and stout limbs.

Size

Long-tailed salamanders range in length from 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters) long, with 60 percent of that length being their tails.

Native Habitat

Long-tailed salamanders range from southern New York, south to northern Alabama and west to Missouri. They can be found in creek beds, caves, streams and ponds. While larvae are aquatic, adults are terrestrial and inhabit the wooded areas surrounding streams and ponds.

Food/Eating Habits

In the wild, long-tailed salamanders eat a variety of invertebrates.

At the Smithsonian's National Zoo, long-tailed salamanders receive a mixture of crickets, fruit flies, bean beetles, wood lice, springtails and black worms.

Reproduction and Development

Reproduction in long-tailed salamanders is not well documented. They are known to rub heads as part of courtship behavior.

Breeding occurs from late fall through early spring. Females lay 60 to 110 eggs on the undersides of rocks in water and leave after laying. Hatching occurs four to six weeks later.

Lifespan

Lifespan for the long-tailed salamander is estimated to be about 10 years.

The primary threats to long-tailed salamanders include habitat destruction and the presence of emerging diseases. Salamanders, like other amphibians, can absorb pollutants into their skin and are therefore highly susceptible to environmental contaminants.