Ocoee Salamander

Desmognathus ocoee

One of five species formerly lumped together and called the Mountain Dusky Salamander, the Ocoee Salamander is best told from its near relatives by its range. It is found in the southeastern corner of Tennessee in the Cumberland Plateau and Blue Ridge Mountain sections.

Description: Coloration in this species (2.5 to 4.5 inches in length) is highly variable. They have a round tail and a light line from the eye to the angle of the jaw. Some individuals may have a stripe down the back that can vary in color from yellow to orange, red, or brown. This stripe can be irregular or straight.

Other individuals may have spotting or flecking on the back instead of a dorsal stripe and others, especially males, maybe dark with little or no patterning. Some individuals may exhibit red legs or cheek patches.

Similar Species: Separated from the Carolina Mountain Dusky Salamander, the Blue Ridge Dusky Salamander, the Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander, and the Cumberland Dusky Salamander by its range and by genetic comparison.

Habitat: Typically found along streams, in seepage areas, and on wet rock faces. Some may be encountered far from water; those at higher elevations tend to be more terrestrial than those found lower levels.

Diet: Forest floor invertebrates make up this species' diet.

Breeding information: Females deposit their eggs under moss, rocks, or logs or under logs in or near flowing water. The female remains with her eggs until they hatch. Hatchling salamanders emerge from their eggs with external gills and spend up to 10 months as fully aquatic larvae before transforming into adults.

Status in Tennessee: Very common within its range.

Fun Facts:

  • The Ocoee Salamander can be the most abundant salamander in its range. Some population counts have yielded densities of more than 2,500 individuals per acre
  • Active primarily at night

Best places to see in Tennessee: Found in the southeastern corner of Tennessee in the Cumberland Plateau and Blue Ridge Mountain sections.