Black-bellied Salamander
Desmognathus quadramaculatus

Common Name:

Black-bellied Salamander

Scientific Name:

Desmognathus quadramaculatus



desmos is Greek for  "ligament",  gnathos is Greek for "jaw"  - This refers to the bundle of ligaments holding the jaw.


quadrus is Latin and means "four-fold", maculatus is Latin and meaning "spotted". This refers to the four rows of small light spots (two rows on each side of the salamander).

Average Length:

3.9 - 6.9 in. (10 - 17.5 cm)

Virginia Record Length:


Record length:

8.3 in (21 cm)

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: This species is from 100-210 mm. It is large, robust brown or dark greenish gray back with a black belly, a short, keeled tail and two rows of conspicuous white spots usually visible on each side of the trunk. The subadults belly is unpigmented and older subadults have patches of black interspersed with areas of yellowish white *1014*. This is the largest member of the genus *970*.

REPRODUCTION: The eggs are laid in the spring and summer with a clutch size of 26 *1014*. The eggs are attached singly to the lower surface of a support, usually a stone and may be either submerged beneath the surface of the water or suspended above it. Each egg is attached by a slender pedicel, an extension of the outermost of the two jelly envelopes *1009*. The eggs hatch in summer or early fall *1014,1009*. Eggs are attached on the undersides of rocks or onto tree roots in the gravel in streams; egg clusters ranged from 21 to 62 eggs *10812*.

BEHAVIOR: The adults prefer large turbulent brooks, living under stones and in crevices in the splash zone. The larvae and juveniles inhabit spring seep tributaries *1014* in and along the mountain streams above 2500 feet *1009*. The population density is associated with available streambed rock substrate *888*. This species is found in swift mountain streams. The eggs are laid under rocks or logs in streams. The female stays with the eggs until hatching and the larval period is 24 months *1014,1009*.

References for Life History

  • 888 - Davis, R.D., Orr, L.P., 1982, Rock substrate availability as a factor limiting the population density of Desmognathus quadramaculatus salamanders, Ohio J. Sci., Vol. 82, Num. 2, pg. 98
  • 970 - Shealy, R.M., 1975, Factors influencing activity in the salamanders Desmognatus ochrophaeus and D. monticola (Plethodontidae), Herpetology, Vol. 31, pg. 94-102
  • 1009 - Bishop, S.C., 1943, Handbook of Salamanders, 555 pgs., Comstock Publ. Co., New York, NY
  • 1014 - Martof, B.S., Palmer, W.M., Bailey, J.R., Harrison, III J.R., 1980, Amphibians and Reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia, 264 pgs., UNC Press, Chapel Hill, NC
  • 10812 - Organ, J.A., 1990, Salamander Survey Section One 1990, Prepared for the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, Jefferson National Forest, 40 pgs., Dept. of Bio. of the City College of New York, New York


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