Southern Ravine Salamander, Plethodon richmondi
The Southern Ravine salamander occurs in the northern portions of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian Ridge and Valley, and Cumberland Mountains, usually at higher elevations.
Description: A long, slender salamander (3.0 to 5.0 inches in length) with short legs and long tail. Back color is dark brown to black with very fine silvery-white to brassy specks. Belly is uniformly dark with lightly mottled chin.
Similar Species: Eastern Red-backed Salamander has a salt-and-pepper patterned belly. Northern and Southern Zigzag Salamanders have red or orangish color on the belly. Wehrle’s and Red-cheeked Salamanders have larger legs and are more stout-bodied.
Habitat: Found under rocks, logs, and leaf litter of sloping to steep, upland forests and ravines.
Diet: Small insects including spiders, ants, mites, slugs, earthworms, and beetles.
Breeding information: Adults breed between fall and spring in terrestrial habitat. Females lay eggs deep in underground cavities during the spring. Females most likely brood eggs until hatching.
Status in Tennessee: Population abundance not well known due to small range in Tennessee. Vulnerable to loss of habitat from deforestation and development.
- Salamanders in the Plethodontidae family do not have lungs; gas exchange occurs entirely through their skin.
Best places to see in Tennessee: Mid- to steep slopes of northeast TN forests.