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Checklist of Amphibian Species and Identification Guide

Eastern Red-backed Salamander, Plethodon cinereus


redback salamanders redback salamander
The Red-backed Salamander along with all salamanders within the family Plethodontidae are lungless. Nearly all of their respiration takes place through cutaneous gas exchange. This means that they breathe through their skin. The remaining gas exchange takes place through buccopharyngeal (within the mouth) respiration. The Red-backed Salamander is characterized by the red stripe which begins immediately behind the head and extends nearly to the tip of the tail. The red stripe is usually very straight throughout its entire length along the body and generally covers the entire back of the salamander.
red-back salamander Leadback Redback Salamander
In some populations the red color of the stripe is replaced by dark gray (above right). This is called the lead-backed phase. This color phase occurs throughout the range of the Red-backed Salamander, though it appears to be rare in high altitude populations. The belly is finely mottled with equal amounts of white and black creating a "salt and peppar" effect. They normally reach a length of about 4 inches. They are completely terrestrial (though dependent upon moisture), laying eggs that hatch directly into salamanders.
redback salamander Redback Salamander
The Red-backed Salamander is the most commonly encountered salamander throughout most of its range.
Redback Salamander Redback Salamander Range

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