Southern Two-lined Salamander
(Eurycea cirrigera )
Description: This small, thin salamander rarely exceeds 4 inches in length and has 13-14 costal grooves. They are typically yellowish-brown in coloration with dark lines on their sides and varying amounts of dark spotting on their back. The belly is translucent with a yellowish wash. Males can be differentiated from females during breeding season due to the pair cirri extending down on the upper lip.
Larvae are much smaller than adults and possess external gils. They are duller and color and have a clear tail-fin to help propel them through their fully aquatic habitat.
Natural History: This salamander can be found in moist, hardwood forests along the edges of seeps or small streams. Breeding can occur at anytime of the year, but there is often an increase in reproductive activity in late winter and early spring. They may migrate to dryer habitats outside of breeding season where they will seek refuge in burrows or under forest debris.
Females will lay their eggs under the surface of rocks and other debris in the water and will remain with the eggs until they hatch. Larvae are fully aquatic and hide under rocks and other debris beneath the water surface.
Like most salamanders in our area, the Southern Two-lined Salamander is insectivorous and consumes small invertebrates. They themselves are food for a variety of creatures such as birds, small mammals, reptiles, large insects, and other amphibians. They can be quite abundant in suitable forest ecosystems and play a key role in the food chain.
Distribution: This salamander can be found throughout South Carolina, with the highest abundance occuring in the upper coastal plain, midlands, and piedmont region. They are found throughout the Southeastern United States. From Virginia, to the Florida Panhandle and then west to the Mississippi River.
Similar Species: Other members in the genus Eurycea can look very similar. Both the Dwarf Salamander (Eurycea quadridigitata)and the Chamberlain’s Dwarf Salamander (Eurycea chamberlaini) are similar, but typically smaller in size and have 4 toes on their hind legs. The Blue Ridge Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea wilderae) is restricted to the mountain’s, but may overlap in some areas. The dark stripes on the sides generally separate at the tail on the Blue Ridge Two-lined Salamander, while the Southern Two-lined Salamander stripes are unbroken down the tail.
Contributed by Jake Zadik (12/07/2022)