Chattooga Dusky Salamander
This salamander belongs to the Ocoee Salamander Complex – a group of small semi-terrestrial duskies made up of four species found in the Southern Appalachians. The Chattooga Dusky Salamander is the only one of the four that is found in South Carolina. While other members of the complex are exclusively found at higher elevations, the Chattooga Dusky Salamander ranges from the Blue Ridge into the rolling hills of South Carolina’s Piedmont region. As you move lower in elevation this salamander becomes increasing tied to water features and mostly found in small streams and seepages. Overall, they are very similar to the mountain dusky salamanders in appearance and ecology.
This salamander can vary significantly in coloration and pattern, however most have some form of a large brownish dorsal stripe. The stripe may appear as a series of blotches or diamonds that fuse together. The tail is semi-rounded tail, but larger individuals begin to form a spade-shaped tail near the base. Ventral coloration in is black and white mottling to a grayish coloration.
In South Carolina Seepage Salamanders can look similar, but will typically have a dark ‘Y’ shape on the back of their head. Outside of South Carolina, other members of the complex are going to be the most challenging to distinguish and the best tool to differentiate is range.
Contributed by Kevin Hutcheson (6/21/2023)