USGS - science for a changing world

Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

  Home About NPWRC Our Science Staff Employment Contacts Common Questions About the Site

Checklist of Amphibian Species and Identification Guide

Shovel-nosed Salamander, Desmognathus marmoratus


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.


Shovel-nosed Salamander
The Shovel-nosed Salamander is a relatively robust Dusky salamander that reaches lengths around 4 to 5 inches. They are generally a brown to black color above. Usually there are two rows of poorly defined spots that are lighter colored on the dorsal surface. The venter is usually dark gray with a light central zone. The compressed tail is less than 1/2 the total length and has a conspicuous "knife-edged" keel above. As the photo suggests, this species is highly aquatic and is found in mountain brooks in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina and adjacent areas at elevations above 1000 ft. They favor sections with lots of stones under which they like to hide.
Shovel-nosed Salamander
The head is flattened and wedge shaped, giving it the shovel like appearance for which it is named, with the downward slope starting from a point behind the eyes. The pale line from anle of jaw to eye may or may not be present. There are some populations with a considerable percentage of individuals being albinistic. They are most likely to be confused with the Black-bellied Salamander (D. quadramaculatus), but this species does not have a flattened head and the pale line by the eye is usually more conspicuous.
Shovelnose Salamander Range

Notice:  All images contained hereafter are the property of the said photographer. They are not to be reproduced, copied, printed, stored, or distributed without written permission of the photographer.

Return to checklist:   family/species   species only
Return to Contents

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo USA.gov logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
URL: http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/herps/amphibid/species/desmarm.htm
Page Contact Information: Webmaster
Page Last Modified: Saturday, 02-Feb-2013 05:02:06 EST
Sioux Falls, SD [sdww54]