Northern Spring Salamander
Gyrinophilus porphyriticus porphyriticus

Common Name:

Northern Spring Salamander

Scientific Name:

Gyrinophilus porphyriticus porphyriticus



gyrinos is Greek for "tadpole", philos is Greek for "loving" or "fond of". Referring to the multi-year larval stage.


porphyros is Greek for "reddish-brown or purple" icus is a Latin suffix that calls attention to the color. Referring to dorsal color of the salamander.


porphyros is Greek for "reddish-brown or purple" icus is a Latin suffix that calls attention to the color. Referring to dorsal color of the salamander.

Average Length:

4.8 - 7.5 in. (12.1 - 19 cm)

Virginia Record Length:

Record length:

9.1 in. (23.2 cm)

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: The back is strongly mottled, light yellowish-brown, with reddish tinges to light salmon. The sides have darker reticulations enclosing pale spots. There is a light line from the eye to nares bordered below with a darker band. The entire venter flesh sometimes has a few small scattered dark dots on the belly and more numerous spots on the throat and margin of the lower jaw. The length is up to 193 mm *867*.

REPRODUCTION: This species will lay eggs from July to August. The clutch size is from 20-60 and they hatch in about 3 months. The females mature at 5 years *1014*.

BEHAVIOR: This species frequents cool springs and streams. It occupies natural or excavated cavities beneath logs or stones at the margin of streams. The adults are frequently found some distance from water but usually in damp situations *867*. On rainy nights adults leave the stream and forage along its banks *879*. The eggs are attended by the female until hatching. The eggs are attached to the lower surface of submerged rocks *1014*. The larvae shelter under rubbish, stones, and other debris on the bottom of the stream or spring. The juveniles may forage in beds of submerged plants in springs or streams. They are found beneath stones, logs, and boards on the water's edge or among roots and stones embedded in banks and bottoms of streams and springs *865*. They prefer flat stones at the water's edge *1008*. They inhabit wet depres- sions beneath logs, stones, or leaves in the surrounding forest *883*. They will not survive in warm, muddy, or polluted water. They may dig deep into the bed of a stream or spring in winter and during low-water periods in the summer *865*. The adults are nocturnal and the aquatic juveniles are more active in the day than adults. This species is dorment in the summer *865*.

ORIGIN: This species is native *867*.

AQUATIC/TERRESTRIAL ASSOCIATIONS: Aquatic associations include Pseudotriton r. ruber, Desmognathus f. fuscus, Eurycea b. bislineata, Diptera sp., Trichoptera sp., Chara sp. and Nasturtium sp. Terrestial associations include D. f. fuscus P. r. ruber. E. b. bislineata, Quercus sp., Carya sp., Fagus grandifolia and Acer saccharum *879,865*.

References for Life History

  • 865 - Bishop, S.C., 1941, The salamanders of New York, New York State Mus. Bull., Vol. 324, pg. 1-365
  • 867 - Bishop, S.C., 1947, Handbook of Salamanders, 555 pgs., Comstock Publ. Co., Ithaca, N.Y
  • 879 - Burton, T.M., 1976, An analysis of the feeding ecology of the salamanders (Amphibia urodela) of the Hubbard Brook experimental forest, New Hampshire, J. Herpetol., Vol. 10, Num. 3, pg. 187-204
  • 883 - Conant, R., 1975, A field guide to reptiles and amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, 429 pgs., Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, MA
  • 1008 - Barbour, R.W., 1971, Amphibians and reptiles of Kentucky, 334 pgs., Univ. of Kentucky Press, Lexington, KY


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