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Range Map

Shovel-nosed Salamander

Shovel-nosed Salamander
Desmognathus marmoratus

The Shovel-nose Salamander is found in drainages of the Blue Ridge Mountains north of the Little Tennessee River.

Description: A large species (3.5 to 5.0 inches in length) with black, brown, or gray back typically marked with two rows of irregular yellowish to grayish blotches. The tail is laterally compressed and strongly keeled above. Head is flattened and wedge-shaped.

Similar Species: Distinguished from Black-bellied Salamander by dark gray belly with lighter middle.

Habitat: Lives in clear, cool, well-oxygenated streams at elevations of 1000-5500 ft.

Diet: Mainly consists of larval or nymphal stages of aquatic insects, particularly mayfly and caddis fly larvae.

Breeding information: Females deposit 20-65 eggs in spring or summer to the underside of rocks in flowing water and remain with them until hatching. Hatching occurs in August and September.

Status in Tennessee: Appears to be common within its range. Sensitive to heavily silted and polluted streams.

Fun Facts:

  • Shovel-nosed Salamanders were exploited as fish bait in some areas during the mid-twentieth century; however it appears no longer important to the industry.

Best places to see in Tennessee: They are common in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park above 1000 ft.

For more information:

The Salamanders of Tennessee web site


Conant, R. and Collins, J. 1998. Peterson Field Guides: Reptiles and Amphibians (Eastern/Central North America). Houghton Mifflin Company, New York. 616pp.

Dodd, Jr., C.K. 2004. The Amphibians of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville TN.

Jensen, J. B., Camp C. D., Gibbons, W., and Elliot, M. J. 2008. Amphibians and Reptiles of Georgia, University of Georgia Press, Athens, GA. 575pp.