Seal Salamander (Desmognathus monticola)
Recognized Subspecies in VA: None
Size: 3.25 - 6 inches
Range: All mountainous regions of the state
Status: Least Concern
It never fails to surprise me where I find Seal Salamanders. I have found Seals in rock crevices on wet cliff sides, down in the small creeks in valleys in Patrick Co., and in mountain springs in Highland Co. Any stream in the Blue Ridge or west could have these common Duskies. They can be found under rocks or logs, or even by spotlighting wet rock crevices.
This species has a longer snout than most Duskies, and large, dark spots. I have heard to these referred to as “leopard-spotting”, and I usually say they appear penciled on. They have a plain, gray belly, but often some blue specking on the lower flanks. Juveniles often have yellow or orange spots alternating down their back and on to the tail. These fade with age, but are quite prominent on all but adults. This species has a highly keeled tail. Seals have gray bellies, with only blue-white flecks. These flecks will come up the flanks a bit as well.
Similar Species: The Northern Dusky is the most misidentified species with the Seal, but Northerns have shorter faces, less keeled tails, salt-n-pepper flanks and venters, and a much different pattern. Other Dusky species could be misidentified, but the Seal is fairly unique, and a brief look through the others may help.
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