Plethodon cinereus — Red-backed Salamander
At the time I uncovered these various salamanders under logs at our campground on the outskirts of Charlottesville, I assumed there were at least two species involved, if not three. But after reading up on my eastern salamanders and asking around, it seems most likely that they are all Plethodon cinereus, which is one of the most common woodland salamanders in large areas of the eastern U.S. These photos illustrate the two most common color phases, "redback" and "leadback".
We drove Skyline Drive north through Shenandoah National Park to see the sights. On a cold April morning, I didn't expect to see any herps at all, but I managed to uncover a couple of these small salamanders. This one is a different color still from any of the ones I saw near Charlottesville.
I spent a morning poking around a large wooded estate while our dogs Tina and Spreckles learned agility tricks at the hands of Bud Houston and my wife. The herps were not cooperating that morning, and all I managed to discover was a few bullfrogs and this lone salamander. So far, my one and only photo of a herp from Ohio.
- Conant, R., Collins, J. T. 1998. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, Third Edition, expanded
- Crother, B. I. (ed.) 2017. Scientific and Standard English Names of Amphibians and Reptiles of North America North of Mexico, with Comments Regarding Confidence in Our Understanding, Eighth Edition
- Petranka, J. W. 1998. Salamanders of the United States and Canada