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Checklist of Amphibian Species and Identification Guide

Imitator Salamander, Desmognathus imitator


Note:  Dusky Salamanders (genus Desmognathus) are extremely difficult to identify due to their highly varied patterns and coloration. They can be distinguished from many other types of Lungless Salamanders by the presence of a light line stretching from the corner of the mouth to the eye. The patterns on these salamanders change with age and show a high degree of variability both among individuals in a population and among different areas of their range. If you find a specimen in the field first look at the range maps in an identification guide to narrow your search to species found in your area. Dusky Salamanders have aquatic larvae.


The Imitator Salamander is a small salamander attaining lengths around 4 inches. They look very similar to the Jordan's Salamander with their distinctive cheek patches of yellow, orange or sometimes a shade of red. The cheek patch obscures the pale line stretching from the corner of the mouth to the eye commonly found in Dusky Salamanders. The other distinctive characteristic is the dorsal patterning of the undulating lines down to the tail. Their tail is round in cross-section. The color of the belly of the Imitator Salamander is generally a gray. They inhabit a variety of moist habitats around streams, seepage areas and springs where they are found under rocks and other moist litter on the forest floor. The range of the Imitator Salamander is restricted to the the Great Smoky Mountains National Park of Tennessee and North Carolina and limited surrounding areas. They are found only in high mountains, from 3000 ft. above sea level and higher.

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