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Spotted Dusky Salamander, Desmognathus conanti

Description:  
Formally considered a subspecies, along with Northern Dusky Salamander, of the Dusky Salamander, the Spotted Dusky Salamander coloration is variable from tan to brown to nearly black.  It frequently has 6 to 8 pairs of golden or reddish dorsal spots, which are normally separated. This salamander is medium-sized (2.5-5 inches) and has a moderately keeled tail.

Similar Species:
Closely related to 2 other species, Northern Dusky Salamander and Santeetlah Dusky Salamander, best distinguished by their ranges. Santeetlah Duskies usually have a light yellow wash on the underside of the limbs and tail (Spotted does not).

The tail in the Northern Dusky is laterally compressed and strongly keeled, whereas the tail is moderately keeled in both the Spotted and Santeetlah Dusky salamanders.

Habitat:
This species occurs along small lowland streams and in seepage areas.

Diet:
Earthworms, spiders, mites, centipedes, millipedes, and other insects.

Breeding information:
Mating occurs in late summer and fall with eggs laid from July to October.

Status in Tennessee:
The Spotted Dusky Salamander appears across most of TN (except extreme Western and North-eastern TN); very abundant at lower elevations (<2600 ft).

Fun Facts:
Genus name Desmognathus refers to bulging appearance on sides of head due to large jaw musculature.

Best places to see in Tennessee:
Low elevation streams in the Great Smoky Mountains and Cumberland Plateau.

spotted-dusky-salamander3

Sources:

Conant, R. and Collins, J. 1998. Peterson Field Guides: Reptiles and Amphibians (Eastern/Central North America). Houghton Mifflin Company, New York. 616pp.

Dodd, Jr., C.K. 2004. The Amphibians of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville TN.