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

Mountain Dusky Salamander, Desmognathus ochrophaeus


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 Mountain Dusky Salamander (also called the Allegheny Mountain Dusky in Crother, 2000) is a smaller Dusky Salamander attaining lengths around 4 inches. The tail, which is half the total length, is round in cross-sections and the pale eye line is distinct. They are extremely variable in their color and pattern. In the northern part of their range they can be gray, brown, olive or orange or yellow and have a wide, straight-edged lighter colored band with dark borders along the back and tail. There is often a row of chevron-like markings down the center of the back as well. In the southern part of their range Mountain Duskies are more variable. Some resemble the northern forms, but in the majority the light dorsal band has wavy or irregular edges similar to those seen in these photos. There may even be dark bars crossing the band. The tail of this species is usually again as long as the main body. The tail of the individual in the photo below has been predated upon.

The Mountain Dusky Salamanders are found over a large area at elevations of 600 ft. and higher. At low elevations it is found near springs streams and seepage areas, at higher altitudes it seems to prefer cool, moist floors of conifer forests. Mountain Dusky Salamanders are also known to congregate in the winter in springs or seepage areas. They are also more terrestrial than other Dusky Salamanders.

Mountain Dusky Salamander
Mountain Dusky Salamander Mtn. Dusky Sal. Range

Reference:

Crother B.I. (ed.)  2000.  Scientific and Standard English Names of Amphibians and 
     Reptiles of North America North of Mexico, with Comments Regarding Confidence 
     in Our Understanding.  SSAR Herpetological Circular 29. iii + 82 pp.

This publication may be purchased from the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles (SSAR) by contacting Dr. Robert D. Aldridge, Publications Secretary, Department of Biology, Saint Louis University, Saint Louis, Missouri 63103-2010, USA. Telephone: (314) 977-3916 or 977-1710, Fax: (314) 977-3658.


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/dochrop.htm
Page Contact Information: Webmaster
Page Last Modified: Saturday, 02-Feb-2013 05:02:14 EST
Menlo Park, CA [caww54]