Red salamander

Red salamanders are easy to identify: bright red with black spots and bright yellow eyes

John P Clare

Found across a wide range of environments in the eastern United States, these striking salamanders are most commonly associated with streams, springs, and small creeks, where they thrive in the cool, clear waters of these aquatic habitats. Their adaptability allows them to persist in various landscapes, from deciduous forests to woodland ponds, showcasing their ecological versatility.

During the daytime, red salamanders are known to seek refuge behind logs and rocks, as well as in the crevices of streambanks. These secluded hideouts provide protection from potential predators and help them maintain moisture levels essential for their survival. At night, they become active hunters, foraging for a diet that consists of invertebrates and small vertebrates. This nocturnal behavior allows them to avoid daytime threats while seeking nourishment under the cover of darkness.

The red salamander’s appearance resembles the highly toxic Red eft (Notophthalmus viridescens), a juvenile stage of the Eastern newt. This mimicry serves as a form of defense against potential predators. Some would-be attackers, recognizing the bright red coloring of the Red eft as a warning sign of toxicity, may steer clear of the red salamander, mistaking it for the dangerous newt.

Remarkably, red salamanders have the potential for a relatively long lifespan, with reports of individuals living up to 20 years in the wild. This longevity contributes to their resilience as a species, allowing them to adapt to changing environmental conditions and contribute to the ecosystem’s stability.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
United States
LC
2021

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No