Clicking here will take you to the EEK! Home Page Clicking here will take you to the Critter Corner Section Clicking here will take you to the Nature Notes Section Clicking here will take you to the Our Earth Section Clicking here will take you to the Cool Stuff Section Clicking here will take you to the Get a Job Section
Clicking here will take you to the EEK! Home Page
.

The Eastern Red-backed Salamander

Wisconsin status: abundant
length: 3-4 inches
eastern red-backed salamander photo

This salamander is different than most. Not only does it live on land its whole life, it doesn't have lungs or gills and breathes right through its skin! To help absorb oxygen, it needs moisture and has to keep its skin wet. It hangs out in humid areas that are shaded, and underneath leaf litter, rotten bark, or decaying logs on the ground. You'll know the red-back by its reddish stripe from head to tail along the entire backside. It is 2-5 inches long.

During the spring and summer, the eastern red-backed salamander is active at night. It walks along the forest floor under leaves, rocks, and stumps. You might see one climbing a tree or shrub in search of food. In the fall, the male redback lays a jelly-like mass and the female picks it up and then lays 3-14 eggs in a cavity in a rotting stump or rock crevice. The female guards the eggs during development and secretes slime on the eggs to keep them from drying out and to keep fungus from growing on the eggs. Unlike all other Wisconsin salamanders, eastern red-backed salamanders change to adults while they are in the egg and they don't go through a free-swimming larval stage. In the winter, redbacks bury themselves in a rock crevice or climb "down under" about 15 inches in decaying roots in the soil.

This is the range map for the eastern red-backed salamander--range is in brown.

The mixed coniferous-deciduous forest is the perfect place for the red-backed salamander to live with lots of rocks, decaying logs, leaf litter and stumps. You'll find them throughout Wisconsin and in the eastern United States from Maine south to Georgia. These salamanders eat lots of slimy critters like insects and their larvae, mites, spiders, and slugs. Other forest animals: birds, shrews and snakes, make a meal out of this salamander.

You can see an eastern red-backed salamander and watch kids help a researcher who is studying salamanders by viewing this red-backed salamander video .   [VIDEO Length 4:33]



. Click here to go to the top of the page
Clicking here will take you to the EEK! Home PageClicking here will take you to the DNR Home Page
Clicking here will take you to the EEK! Home PageClicking here will take you to the Critter Corner SectionClicking here will take you to
the Nature Notes SectionClicking here will take you to
the Our Earth SectionClicking here will take you to
the Cool Stuff SectionClicking here will take you to
the Get a Job Section