Recognized Subspecies in VA: None
Size: 4 - 6.5 inches
Range: Blue Ridge, Allegheny, and Cumberland Plateau
Status: Least Concern
The Long-tailed Salamander is a large Eurycea species that can often be found in and around wet caves, rock piles, and walls throughout the mountains of Virginia (think shale and limestone). It’s close relative, the Three-lined Salamander, was once thought to be a subspecies within this species, so many old range maps show this species into the Piedmont of Virginia. This species can be found by shining caves, flipping rocks near water sources, and road cruising wet nights near rocky springs and creeks. Adult Long-tails will migrate in heavy rains to escape flooding, and/or move to the next step in their yearly cycle. This species breeds in the fall, before they retreat underground to caves and the like. After they emerge in the spring, they frequent pools and streams, seeming to prefer more temporary, flowing water sources. Then they disperse again throughout the forest, rocky slopes, or caves.
This species is typically yellow to orange, with dark spotting similar to a big cat, usually breaking into lines of patterns down the back. The full tail usually makes up ½ to ⅔ the total body length, and is flatter than that of a Plethodon species. When grabbed, this species will readily drop its tail, similarly to skinks. This species has a very obvious horizontal pupil.
Similar Species: The Cave Salamander usually has smaller, very circular spots, especially on the tail. The base of the tail on a Long-tail will almost always have two rows of very vertical spots that come together at a point that look like wide “V”s that point up the tail towards the base. Caves can have more irregular-shaped spotting, but it is very fine and well spaced and does not form lines of pattern down the dorsal.
Maps and External Sources
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