Green Salamander
Aneides aeneus

Common Name:

Green Salamander

Scientific Name:

Aneides aeneus



Aneides is Greek and means " lacking form or shape".


aeneus is Latin and means "bronze or copper".  Referring to the lichen-like patches of dorsal color.

Average Length:

3.3 - 5 in. (8.3 - 12.5 cm)

Virginia Record Length:

Record length:

5.5 in. (14 cm)

Virginia Wildlife Action Plan Rating Tier II - Very High Conservation Need - Has a high risk of extinction or extirpation. Populations of these species are at very low levels, facing real threat(s), or occur within a very limited distribution. Immediate management is needed for stabilization and recovery.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: The average adult size is approximately 102 mm total length. Dorsally, it is black to gray-brown with large light green to metallic yellow-green mottling. Ventrally, it is bluish gray to cream yellow and immaculate or lightly flecked with yellow. The toes of the fore and hind feet end in squared fleshy pads, with the exception of the innermost, which are reduced in size. The interdigital spaces are slightly webbed in the forefeet and moderately webbed in the hind feet. The head is vertically depressed and broadened horzontally, especially in the males, and in the adults it is usually wider than the body. The tail is rounded and slightly longer than the the body *1008,1009,02,941,1015*. The males have well developed secondary sex characteristics which are important in courtship and may also function in territory defense *886*. The males possess enlarged jaw musculature *900* and elongated maxillary and premaxillary teeth that penetrate the upper lip *896*. Males have a yellow-orange mental gland which plays an important role in courtship *885*.

REPRODUCTION: The breeding period is from May to late September. The time of breeding has little to do with geographic location, but varies from one population to another. There are approximately 17 eggs per clutch. The eggs are deposited in early summer and undergo a long incubation period (3 months) during which time they are brooded by the female *899*. During the diurnal fall courtship, there is a presence of a distinct circular pattern as a major part of the courtship. The male is active in keeping the female in the circling pattern with nudging and biting. The males have well-developed secondary sex characteristics which are important in courtship *886*.

BEHAVIOR: The males, through aggresive behavior, exclude conspecific males from established territories *886*. The females exhibit less aggression than males although breeding females, and some gravid females may be aggressive *974*. The males have well-developed secondary sex characteristics which may function in territory defense *886*. When irritated, the tail is thrashed about wildly *899*. Since the activity of females is restricted during the warmer months, due to egg laying, this may explain the absence of the species at elevations above 4400 feet in the southern mountains *874*. Both sexes are active primarily at night. Light rains stimulate movements at night, and to a lesser extent in the daytime. Their annual cycle is divided into four parts: (1) breeding period May to late September, (2) dispersal and aggregation late September to November, (3) hibernation November through late April and, (4) the post-hibernation aggregation and dispersal late April and May. It is believed that hibernation occurs in deep innerconnecting crevices where crevices are suitable for both breeding and hibernation, individuals may be sedentary. Where crevices, either deep or shallow, are suitable for only breeding, individuals will move from these to deep crevices in the fall and return to the breeding crevices in the spring. Breeding is done in crevices which are moist but not wet. Shading, either by vegetation or overhanging cliffs, is essential. The females turn upside down during egg deposition which is done on the upper surface or nesting cracks or crevices *899*. The eggs are directly adherent to one another. The entire cluster may be attached to the ceiling of a cavity by 1 or more short cables *961*. Occasionally, the eggs are laid separately where the space between the ceiling and the floor is a limiting factor. After laying the eggs, the female turns over and lies to either side or coils around the clutch, this is considered the guarding period. Guarding will become aggressive. The entire development of the egg is intraoval, and there is no aquatic larval stage. The young leave the crevice within 2 months after hatching *899*. The young, after leaving the nest site inhabit moss-choked crevices and ledges *899*.

ORIGIN: Native *900*.

AQUATIC/TERRESTRIAL ASSOCIATIONS: The occurrence in an arboreal or arboreal- rock habitat appears to coincide with the optimal development of mixed mesophytic forest. Outside of the regions where the mixed mesophytic forest is developed, they live only in rock crevices in close association with small isolated stands of mixed mesophytic forest, existing there under special micro- climatic conditions *899*. They are associated with P. glutinosus, Eurycea longicauda, Diadophis punctatus edwardsii, Clethrionomys garren carolinensis, Sayornis phoebai, Ceutophilus sp., Quercus alba, Acer rubrum, Rhododendron maximum, Kalmia latifolia, Dicranella sp. *883,899*.

References for Life History

  • 874 - Bruce, R.C., 1968, The role of the Blue Ridge Embayment in the zoogeography of the green salamander Aneides aeneus, Herpetologica, Vol. 24, pg. 185-194
  • 883 - Conant, R., 1975, A field guide to reptiles and amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, 429 pgs., Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, MA
  • 885 - Cupp, P.V., Jr., 1971, Fall courtship of the green salamander, Aneides aeneus, Herpetologica, Vol. 27, pg. 308-310
  • 886 - Cupp, P.V., Jr., 1980, Territoriality in the green salamander Aneides aeneus, Copeia, Vol. 1980, Num. 3, pg. 463-468
  • 896 - Dunn, E.R., 1926, The salamanders of the family Plethodontidae, Smith College 50th Anniversary Publ.
  • 899 - Gordon, R.E., 1952, A contribution of the life history and ecology of the Plethodontid salamander Aneides aeneus (Cope and Packard), Am. Midl. Nat., Vol. 47, pg. 666-701
  • 900 - Gordon, R.E., Riemer, W.J. (Ed.), 1967, Aneides aeneus, Catalogue of American amphibians and reptiles, pg. 30, Am. Soc. Ichthyol. Herpetol.
  • 941 - Leviton, A., 1970, Reptiles and Amphibians of North America, 250 pgs., Doubleday and Co., New York
  • 961 - Pope, C.H., 1928, Some Plethodontid salamanders from North Carolina and Kentucky, with descriptions of a new race of Leurognathus, Am. Mus. Novit., Vol. 306, pg. 1-19
  • 974 - Snyder, D.H., 1971, Field observations of aggression between gravis Aneides aeneus females in a nest crevice, Herpetol. Rev., Vol. 3, pg. 66
  • 1008 - Barbour, R.W., 1971, Amphibians and reptiles of Kentucky, 334 pgs., Univ. of Kentucky Press, Lexington, KY
  • 1009 - Bishop, S.C., 1943, Handbook of Salamanders, 555 pgs., Comstock Publ. Co., New York, NY
  • 1015 - Mount, R.H., 1975, The reptiles and amphibians of Alabama, Ag. Exp. Sta., Auburn Univ., Auburn, AL


*Click on a thumbnail for a larger version.

Verified County/City Occurrence

Bland County
Dickenson County
Lee County
Russell County
Scott County
Tazewell County
Washington County
Wise County
Wythe County
Verified in 9 Counties/Cities.

Box Turtle Reporting

VHS Amazon Smile

Spadefoot Reporting