Seepage Salamander
(Desmognathus aeneus)

A small and terrestrial salamander, the Seepage Salamander is found in the Great Smoky Mountains and southwestward into the Piedmont of Georgia and Alabama. In the cool mountains they can be found outside of their namesake habitat at mid to low elevation in moist coves, but further south they are restricted to small stream heads.

This species is one of the smallest in the US, reaching only 3 cm in length with a rounded tail. Their dorsum is characterized by a solid copper or bronze stripe with the occasional chevron patterning and a prominent ‘Y’ on the back of the head behind the eyes. Their ventral is plain and opaque, and their tail usually takes up a little less than half of their total length.

Outside of South Carolina, this salamander can appear very similar to Southern Pygmy Salamanders. The best way to differentiate these two is elevation. There should be very little elevation overlap between the high elevation pygmies and the low elevation seepages. Seepage Salamanders have a slimmer body shape, with a longer tail and lack the golden ventral coloration. The ‘Y’ on the back of the head of seepages should help distinguish it from any other mountain dusky and Ocoee salamanders.

Contributed by Kevin Hutcheson (6/21/2023)