Mississippi Slimy Salamander, Plethodon mississippi
Found west of the Tennessee River in the Coastal Plain. White-spotted Slimy, Mississippi Slimy, and Northern Slimy Salamanders are virtually indistinguishable, and make up the Slimy salamander complex.
Description: A large salamander (4.5 to 8.0 inches in length) having black dorsum with small, white or silver spots scattered over the body. Belly is lighter than the back and the tail is round.
Similar Species: Distinguished from identical White-spotted Slimy and Northern Slimy Salamanders by range and genetic analysis. Tellico Salamander has a separate range and Cumberland Plateau Salamanders are smaller and have a light chin. Southern Appalachian Salamander usually has fewer and smaller white spots on back and sides.
Habitat: Beneath cover, including trash, in bottomland hardwood forests.
Diet: A variety of invertebrates, especially insects.
Breeding information: Adults reproduce terrestrially during the spring and summer. Females lay 15-17 eggs in underground cavities during the late summer or early fall. Females remain with the eggs until hatching.
Status in Tennessee: Relatively resilient to timber harvesting; however clear-cuts have a negative impact on populations.
- Slimy salamanders secrete a sticky, noxious substance from their skin as a defense against predators.
Best places to see in Tennessee: Bottomland hardwood forests of west TN.