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Range Map

Cave Salamander

Cave Salamander
Eurycea lucifuga

Occurs in caves in the karst topography of the eastern two-thirds of TN.

Description: A long (4.0 to 6.0 inches in length) bright orange to reddish salamander with black spots scattered over body, legs, and tail. Belly is yellow and unmarked.

Similar Species: Long-tailed Salamanders have a herringbone pattern on the tail and are duller in color.

Habitat: Primarily cave entrances and ‘twilight zones’ of caves, where light is weak. Occasionally in forests, springs, or streams.

Diet: Variety of invertebrates including flies, crickets, beetles, moths, mites, and other insects.

Breeding information: Very little known. Breeding occurs in summer with egg laying transpiring in fall and winter. Female lays 50 to 90 eggs under rocks or on stream bottom of caves; occasionally outside of caves. Larval stage lasts 12-15 months.

Status in Tennessee: Uncertain due to difficulty in obtaining population data. Vulnerable to disturbance and subsurface pollution.

Fun Facts:

  • The scientific name lucifuga means “avoid light” referring to its cave environment.
  • Cave Salamanders are excellent climbers.

Best places to see in Tennessee: Cave entrances in middle or east TN.

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.

Johnson, T.R. 2006. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Missouri. The Missouri Department of Conservation, Jefferson City, MO.