Visit our new website

Canadian Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Network - Réseau Canadien de 
Conservation des Amphibiens et des Reptiles

Hemidactylium scutatum
Salamandre à quatre doigts / Four-toed Salamander


Salamandre Quatre Doigts

Description
This small salamander is reddish-brown above with gray sides. The belly is white with black spots. It differs from all other terrestrial salamanders because is has only four toes on the hind feet. Most salamanders have four toes on the front feet but five on the hind feet. It also has a constriction at the base of the tail. Total length, including the tail, may reach 10 cm.

Confusing Species
The Oregon Ensatina also has a contriction at the base of the tail, but it has five toes on the hind feet and is restricted to the west coast. The Northern Spring Salamander can have similar colouration but has a pale bar from the eye to the nostril.

Distribution
Four-toed Salamanders are found in southern Ontario, southwestern Québec Nova Scotia and Fundy National Park in New Brunswick. They are also widely distributed east of the Mississippi River in the United States, with a few locations to the west.

Habitat
These salamanders are restricted to bogs, boggy streams and flood plains in woodland areas. They are often associated with sphagnum moss in which they lay their eggs. They can also be found in the nearby hardwood forests.

Reproduction
Mating usually occurs in fall and eggs are laid in early spring. Two or more females may share a nest, laying about 30 eggs each in small cavities in sphagnum moss, a few centimetres above the water line. The females tend the eggs which hatch in one or two months. The newly hatched larvae wriggle down to the water where they spend about six weeks before transforming. They reach sexual maturity in about two years.

Natural History
Four-toed Salamanders hibernate underground. Like many salamanders, they are able to escape some predators by having their tail break off. This soon regenerates.

Conservation Concerns
Declines have not been reported in this species.