Redback salamander by Victor Young

Northern Redback Salamander

(Plethodon cinereus)

NH Conservation Status: Not listed.

State Rank Status: Widespread and secure, abundant.

Distribution: Throughout NH.

Description: A small (2-4 inches) dark salamander with a reddish or orange stripe down the back from the head to tail. There is also a “leadback” phase where the body is uniformly dark. Both phases have a white and black “salt and pepper” speckled belly.

Commonly Confused Species: Northern two-lined salamander, Four-toed salamander.

Habitat: Wooded areas. Found underground or underneath logs, stumps, rocks, and moist leaf litter. During rainy nights, may climb vegetation in search of prey.   

Life History: Eggs are deposited within or under rotting logs and stumps. Hibernates underground in decaying root systems.

Conservation Threats: Species is secure.

Distribution map: Click here for a map showing the towns where this species is reported to occur in NH

Redback salamander
Some scientists have reported that Redback salamanders are New Hampshire’s most abundant forest vertebrate in terms of overall biomass in the forest (weight of all redback salamanders combined greater than any other species). If you turn over a number of rotting logs in moist woodlands there’s a good chance you will find a redback salamander. Always make sure to replace logs in the position that they were first found. ©Mike Marchand photo
Redback & Leadback salamanders
Redback salamanders have two color phases, the redback phase (below) and the leadback phase (above). Both have speckled bellies. ©Mike Marchand photo
Redback Salamander
Adult redback salamander. ©USGS/John D. Willson photo


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