Seal Salamander
(Desmognathus monticola)

Seal Salamanders are a mid to low elevation species found throughout the Appalachians and Cumberland Plateau. Their range extends down into the piedmont of Georgia and Alabama with a few isolated populations in southern Alabama and the Florida panhandle. They are an aquatic species found in first to third order rocky streams, waterfalls, wet rock faces, and spring heads. This species is extremely abundant in streams throughout its range.

Like all aquatic salamanders, seals have a very keeled tail with a cross section looking more like a triangle. Their dorsum is typically a light tan or dark brown with black reticulation on it. Some individuals will have a faded orange diamond pattern at the base of their tail as well. Their toe tips are keratinized, making them appear black and their ventral coloration is a plain white. Seals also have a more pointed head than many other medium sized aquatic salamanders, but this characteristic is more subtle than most.

Seal Salamanders are the only aquatic species of salamander with a plain belly, however young Black-bellied Salamanders may have a smoky plain ventral that might be confusing. On occasion Seal Salamanders will have white flecking on their flanks much like that of Northern or Spotted Dusky Salamanders, but the ventral patterning will easily separate these two species.

Contributed by Kevin Hutcheson (6/21/2023)