Northern Slimy Salamander
Plethodon glutinosus

Common Name:

Northern Slimy Salamander

Scientific Name:

Plethodon glutinosus



plethore is Greek meaning "fullness or full of",  odon is Greek for "teeth". Referring to  the number of paravomerine and vomerine teeth.


glutinosus is Latin and means "full of glue or very gluey". Referring to the sticky skin secretions.

Average Length:

4.75 - 6.75 in. (12.1 - 17.2 cm)

Virginia Record Length:

Record length:

8.1 in. (20.6 cm)

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: The entire ventral surface is dark slate-colored with light markings on the sides, and occasionally on the back which are silvery- white. There are usually 16 costal grooves. There are intercostal folds between the appressed limbs. The length is up to 188 mm *1009*. There are glands in the skin, especially on the tail, that exude a sticky substance *1014*. They have a prehensile tail *873*.

REPRODUCTION: Courtship occurs in August *952* and continues through September *962*. The average egg is 5.5 mm in diameter, creamy white, and found in crevices of shale banks or below the surface *1009*. The eggs are laid in rock in crevices, moist rotten logs or moss *972*. In the coastal plain, the eggs are laid annually in the late summer or fall. In the mountains, the eggs are laid every other spring *1014,10812*. The aggressive reaction of the male towards courting males suggests a method by which the sexes are distinguished during courting season *952*. The female matures in 3 years, although egg laying might not occur until the fourth *962*.

BEHAVIOR: Distribution is possibly limited in some areas by competition *963*. This species occurs in woodlands except bottomlands subject to repeated changing *1014*. They are usually found beneath logs and stones in woods, crevices of shale banks, and along side of wooded gullies and ravines. It frequently occurs under moist humus *1009 and they are found under stones or decaying logs along streams. Some are found under decaying Virginia pine logs. But most are found under decaying oak or chestnut logs *887*. The adult rests under ground cover within well-rotted stumps and logs, beneath the bark of fallen trees *949*. This species prefers moist but not saturated soil *3826*, and is active near the surface spring to fall, except when dry. It moves underground during dry periods and forages at night. They spend the day in burrows, under logs, stones, and leaf litter *1014*, and buries itself deeply at the approach of winter for hibernation *1009*. This species can suspend itself by the posterior portion of the tail *873*. The female remains with the eggs *972* and may inhabit microhabitats located within less favorable grass habitats *3827*. This species prefers a soil pH of 6.2-7.2 *3826*. It has a mean home range of less than 9 meters diameter *3827*. It is normally most active at sunset *3825*. For references on the aquatic larval stage see *972*.

AQUATIC/TERRESTRIAL ASSOCIATIONS: This species is associated with Plethodon cinereus, Notophthalmus viridescens, Bufo americanus, Terrapene carolina, Quercus sp. and Carya sp. *3827,883*.

References for Life History

  • 873 - Brodie, W.E., G. Gunter, 1958, Egg clutches and prehensilism in the slimy salamander, Herpetology, Vol. 13, pg. 279-280
  • 883 - Conant, R., 1975, A field guide to reptiles and amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, 429 pgs., Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, MA
  • 887 - Davidson, J.A., 1956, Notes on the food habits of the slimy salamander Plethodon glutinosus glutinosus, Herpetology, Vol. 12, pg. 129-131
  • 949 - Minton, S.A., 1972, Amphibians and Reptiles of Indiana, Indiana Academy of Science Monograph, Vol. 3, 346 pgs., Indiana Academy of Science, Indianapolis
  • 952 - Organ, J.A., 1960, The courtship and spermatophore of the salamander Plethodon glutinosus, Copeia, Vol. 1960, pg. 34-40
  • 962 - Pope, C.H., 1950, A statistical and ecological study of the salamander Plethodon yonahlossee, Bull. Chicago Acad. Sci., Vol. 9, pg. 79-106
  • 963 - Powders, V.N., Tietjen, W.L., 1974, The comparative food habits of sympatric and allopatric salamanders, Plethodon glutinosus and Plethodon jordani in eastern Tennessee and adjacent areas, Herpetologica, Vol. 30, pg. 167-175
  • 972 - Smith, P.W., 1961, The amphibians and reptiles of Illinois , Illinois Nat. Hist. Surv. Bull., Vol. 28, Num. 1, pg. 1-298
  • 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
  • 3825 - Goin, C.J., Goin, O.B., Zug, G.R., 1978, Introduction to herpetology, 3rd ed., 378 pgs., W.H. Greeman Co., San Francisco, CA
  • 3826 - Vernberg, F.J., 1955, Correlation of physiological and behavioral indexes of activity in the study of Plethodon cinereus (Green) and P. glutinosus (Green), American Midland Naturalist, Vol. 54, pg. 382-393
  • 3827 - Wells, K.D., Wells, R.A., 1976, Patterns of movement in a population of the slimy salamander, Plethodon glutinosus, with observations of aggregations, Herpetologica, Vol. 32, pg. 156-162
  • 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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