Cave Salamander
Eurycea lucifuga

Common Name:

Cave Salamander

Scientific Name:

Eurycea lucifuga



Eurycea has no known meaning, but is thought to be mythological in nature.


lucis is Latin for "light", fuga is Latin for "flee". Referring to the salamander's habit of avoiding light.

Average Length:

4 - 6 in. (10 - 15.2 cm)

Virginia Record Length:

Record length:

 7.1 in. (18.1 cm)

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: This species is without a definite broad dorsal band. The back and sides of head, trunk, and tail with many small, irregular or rounded, separate black spots, rarely a dorso-lateral linear series. The venter is light yellow and it has a length up to 161 mm *1009*. The young are paler and yellowish with the hatchlings sparsely pigmented and only 10 mm long *1014*. They have a prehensile tail *869*.

REPRODUCTION: This species lays about 60 eggs in the fall or winter. The young become sexually mature at about 125 mm *1014*.

BEHAVIOR: This species is found in and among caves. The larvae are abundant in the waters of caves *966*. Moisture may govern their distribution within caves. This species is virtually restricted to limestone regions and partial to the twilight zone of caves. During wet periods it may occur near springs and along rocky brooks under logs and stones *1014*. It is frequently found under logs, stones, and rubbish in damp situations outside of caves *1009*. The eggs are attached to the underside of rocks in cave streams. Metamorphosis occurs at 50-60 mm. This species climbs well on damp walls and ledges, but is not a true troglobite *1014*. Population parameters: The males outnumber females by a ratio of 1.5:1.0 *928*. Aquatic/terrestrial associations: This species may occur with Plethodon r. richmondi and Eurycea longicauda *884*.

References for Life History

  • 869 - Blair, A.P., 1967, Tail prehensile in Phaeognathus hubrichti, Herpetology, Vol. 23, pg. 67
  • 884 - Cooper, J.E., 1961, Cave records for the salamander Plethodon r. richmondi Pope, with notes on additional cave-associated species, Herpetology, Vol. 17, pg. 250-254
  • 928 - Hutchison, V.H., 1958, The distribution and ecology of the cave salamander, Eurycea lucifuga, Ecol. Monogr., Vol. 28, 22 pgs.
  • 966 - Robyn, S.D., Jaeger, R.G., 1981, Prey location through chemical cues by a terrestrial salamander, Copeia, Vol. 1981, pg. 435-440
  • 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


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Verified County/City Occurrence

Amherst County
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Craig County
Frederick County
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Lee County
Rockbridge County
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