Northern Dusky Salamander / Salamandre sombre du Nord
The Northern Dusky Salamander can be tan to dark brown in colour and be either plain
or mottled. Juveniles have five to eight pairs of round spots on the back. A key
diagnostic feature of the Northern Dusky salamander is the pale line that runs from
the eye diagonally to the jaw. It has a sharply keeled triangular tail. Including the
tail, the Northern Dusky Salamander can grow to over 14 cm in length.
The most similar looking species is the Northern
Two-lined Salamander, which is a similar background colour, but has two stripes down
its back. However, in some individuals the line is broken or faint. It lacks the diagonal
eye line. In Québec, there is also the
Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander, which varies greatly in colour pattern but
usually has a stripe down its back marked with V-shapes. It also has the line from eye
to jaw, but the shape of the tail is rounded rather than triangular.
The Northern Dusky Salamander is widespread in Québec south of the St Lawrence
and in southern New Brunswick. It is limited to only one site in Ontario between Lakes
Erie and Ontario. In the United States, the Northern Dusky Salamander can be found as
far south as Louisiana.
The preferred habitat for the Northern Dusky Salamander is spring-fed rocky creeks in
forested areas. They are rarely found far from water.
The Northern Dusky Salamander breeds in spring. The female lays a cluster of up to
30 eggs that somewhat resembles a bunch of grapes. The eggs are laid near water beneath
rocks, in rotting logs, or in sphagnum moss. The female remains with the eggs until
they hatch in two to three months. At that time, the larvae are roughly 1.5 cm in
length. The larvae transform in about a year at 4 cm in length. It takes another
three to four years for the salamanders to mature.
Northern Dusky Salamanders are frequently found under rocks next to creeks. They
eat a variety of insects and other invertebrates. During the winter, they can remain
active in the water.
There is no evidence of declines in this species.