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Tellico Salamander, Plethodon aureolus

Little is known about the Tellico salamander that occurs in a small range on the western slopes of the Unicoi Mountains and adjacent lowlands between the Little Tennessee and Hiwassee rivers. Formerly a subspecies of P. glutinosus.

Description: A large, black salamander (4.0 to 6.0 inches in length) with many, brass- colored spots on dorsum. Sides have white or yellowish spots. Belly is gray with a lighter chin. Tail is round in cross-section.

Similar Species:

  • Red-cheeked Salamander lacks brassy spots on back and lateral white spots.
  • Southern Appalachian Salamander is generally larger and has white dorsal spots.
  • Northern Slimy Salamander can only be separated from Tellico Salamander by biochemical characters.

Habitat: Mountain and stream valley woodlands.

Diet: A variety of invertebrates.

Breeding information: Unknown. As with all Plethodon species, Tellico Salamanders do not migrate to breeding grounds. Eggs are probably placed in underground cavities.

Status in Tennessee: The Tellico Salamander is listed as “In Need of Management” by TWRA. Appears to be more resilient to timber harvesting disturbance based upon its occurrence in second-growth forest.

Fun Facts:

  • Members of the Plethodon glutinosus complex produce large amounts of skin secretions that are very sticky.

Best places to see in Tennessee: Low elevation woodlands on western slopes of the Unicoi Mountains.

Tellico Salamander
Tellico Salamander
Tellico Salamander
Tellico Salamander
Tellico Salamander Range map
Tellico Salamander Range map