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Northern Spring Salamander
Range Map

Spring Salamander

Spring Salamander
Gyrinophilus porphyriticus

Primarily found in the eastern half of TN. Three subspecies occur in the state: Blue Ridge Spring (G. p. danielsi), Kentucky Spring (G. p. duryi), and Northern Spring (G. p. porphyriticus).

Description: A large (4.3 to 8.2 inches in length), stout-bodied salamander with a salmon to orangish-pink body covered in small black spots or flecks. A distinct ridge usually bordered with a light line, and sometimes shadowed by a dark line beneath it, extends from the eye to the nostril. Tail is moderately keeled.

Similar Species: Red and Mud Salamanders do not have the light-lined ridge running from eye to nostril.

Habitat: Found in small streams, springs, seeps, and caves that occur in moist hardwood forests, from low to high elevations.

Diet: Highly predatory on other salamanders (as well as other Spring Salamanders); also preys on variety of invertebrates.

Breeding information: Adults breed during the winter and spring along the sides of streams. Females lay an average of 40-60 eggs under rocks in small streams during the summer. Females brood clutches until embryos hatch in late summer or autumn. Larval stage can last from 3-5 years.

Status in Tennessee: Population levels appear to be stable. Spring Salamanders are reasonably common in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Fun Facts:

  • Canthus rostralis is the name of the ridge running from the eye to the nostril. Possibly acts as a “gun-sight” in helping locate and focus on prey.

Best places to see in Tennessee: Small streams and springs in Great Smoky Mountains.

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.