Four-toed Salamander
Hemidactylium scutatum

Common Name:

Four-toed Salamander

Scientific Name:

Hemidactylium scutatum



hemi is Greek for "half", daktylion is Greek and means "fusion of digits". Referring to the reduced number of digits on the hind feet.


scutatum is Latin meaning "armed with a shield". Referring to the costal grooves which appeared to be covered with shield-like plates.

Average Length:

2 - 3.5 in. (5.1 - 9 cm)

Virginia Record Length:

Record length:

4 in. (10.2 cm)

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: This species is from 50-95 mm. The dorsum is brown and the venter white with conspicuous scattered black dots. The reddish tail is constructed at the base. There are four toes on each hind foot *1014*. The adult female is about 75 mm and the adult male about 65 mm. There are 13-14 costal grooves *3821*.

REPRODUCTION: The female lays 30-50 eggs under moss, and spawns in early March and the larvae hatch in May. The larvae mature at 1.5 years *1014*. Brooding is a solitary activity, and there is communal egg laying by up to 14 females *913*. The eggs are laid so that larvae fall or wriggle into shallow ponds, pools, or small, quiet streams *949,1008*.

BEHAVIOR: This species dwells in bogs and requires seepages or shallow ponds with moss-covered logs, roots, and grass clumps over quiet water *1014*. This species winters beneath surface materials or deeply buried *865*. They are limited to wooded areas with pools, bogs, or slow bog streams *3821*. This species occurs in various hardwood forests, less often in coniferous forests *3821*.

ORIGIN: The origin of this species is native *1014*.

AQUATIC/TERRESTRIAL ASSOCIATIONS: Aquatic associations include: Rana clomitan melanota, Notophthalmus v. viridescens, Hyla crucifer, Sphagnum sp. and grasses *865,3820,3822*. Terrestrial associations include: N. v. viridescens, Thamnophis sirtalis, R. sylvatica, Ambystoma jeffersonianum, Plethodon cinerus, Pseudacris triseciata, Cornus stolonifera, Thalictrum polygamum, Clematis virginiana, Viburnum dentatum and Viola blanda *865,3820,3822*.

References for Life History

  • 865 - Bishop, S.C., 1941, The salamanders of New York, New York State Mus. Bull., Vol. 324, pg. 1-365
  • 913 - Harris, R.N., Gill, D.E., 1980, Communal nesting, brooding behavior, and embryonic survival of the four-toed salamander Hemidactylium scutatum, Herpetology, Vol. 36, pg. 141-144
  • 949 - Minton, S.A., 1972, Amphibians and Reptiles of Indiana, Indiana Academy of Science Monograph, Vol. 3, 346 pgs., Indiana Academy of Science, Indianapolis
  • 1008 - Barbour, R.W., 1971, Amphibians and reptiles of Kentucky, 334 pgs., Univ. of Kentucky Press, Lexington, KY
  • 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
  • 3820 - Blanchard, F.N., 1933, Late autumn collections and hibernating situations of the salamander Hemidactylium scutatum (Schlegel) in southern Michigan, Copeia, Vol. 1933, pg. 216
  • 3821 - Neil, W.T., 1963, Hemidactylium scutatum, Cat. Amer. Amph. Rept., pg. 2-1-2-2
  • 3822 - Bishop, S.C., 1920, Notes on the habits and development of the four-toed salamander, Hemidactylium scutatum (Schlegel), Bull, New York State Museum, pg. 251-282


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