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Share your observations of plants or non-game animals with the Natural Heritage Inventory

Rare animals
Find rare and non-game animals.
Rare plants
Learn about plants on the Natural Heritage Working List.
Rare lichens
Discover Wisconsin's lichens.
Natural communities
Explore Wisconsin's natural communities.
Other features
Discover unique resources.
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Contact information
For information on Wisconsin's rare animals, contact:
Rich Staffen
Conservation Biologist

Four-toed Salamander (Hemidactylium scutatum)



Four-toed Salamander (Hemidactylium scutatum), a Special Concern species, prefers northern and southern hardwood forests and to a lesser degree, conifer swamps. It overwinters from November through late March by burrowing underground to avoid freezing. Mating can occur in fall or spring at breeding ponds, seepage pools or springs. In April, females move to microhabitats of dense, usually sphagnum, mosses overhanging the water's edge or dense mosses on downed woody debris overlying the water. Four-toed salamanders will also nest in inundated sedge tussock wetlands when mosses are not present. This species' unique nesting microhabitats appear to limit their abundance. Females remain with their eggs until hatching. Eggs hatch in late May or June and larvae drop into the water where they live until transforming in about six weeks. Four-toed salamanders remain active through November.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - both state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Four-toed Salamander (Hemidactylium scutatum). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where occurrences of this species meet NHI data standards and is not meant as a comprehensive map of all observations.

Note: Species recently added to the NHI Working List may temporarily have blank occurrence maps.

Documented locations of Hemidactylium scutatum in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.
Summary Information
State StatusSC/H
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS3?
Global RankG5
Tracked by NHIY

Species guidance

A guidance document is not available at this time. Use the information from the other tabs and contact local biologists, as needed, to develop management and avoidance strategies.



Four-toed Salamander

Four-toed Salamander

Photo © A.B. Sheldon.

Four-toed Salamander

Four-toed Salamander

Photo © A.B. Sheldon.

Four-toed Salamander

Four-toed Salamander

Photo © A.B. Sheldon.

Four-toed Salamander

Photo © A.B. Sheldon.

Four-toed Salamander

Four-toed Salamander eggs

Photo © A.B. Sheldon.

Wildlife Action Plan

Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan graphic

Natural community (habitat) associations

The table below lists the natural communities that are associated with Four-toed Salamander. Only natural communities for which Four-toed Salamander is "high" (score=3) or "moderate" (score=2) associated are shown. See the key to association scores for complete definitions. Please see the Wildlife Action Plan to learn how this information was developed.

Ecological landscape associations

The table below lists the ecological landscape association scores for Four-toed Salamander. The scores correspond to the map (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None). For more information, please see the Wildlife Action Plan.

This map shows the probability of Four-toed Salamander occurring in each of Wisconsin's Ecological Landscapes.  Actual scores can be found in the table to the left.

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Landscape-Community combinations of highest ecological priority*

Ecological priorities are the combinations of natural communities and ecological landscapes that provide Wisconsin's best opportunities to conserve important habitats for a given Species of Greatest Conservation Need. The 10 highest scoring combinations are considered ecological priorities and are listed below. More than 10 combinations are listed if multiple combinations tied for 10th place. For more information, please see the Wildlife Action Plan.

Ecological LandscapeCommunity
Central Lake Michigan Coastal Great Lakes Ridge and Swale
Central Sand Plains Floodplain Forest
Central Sand Plains Alder Thicket
Central Sand Plains Central Poor Fen
Central Sand Plains Open Bog
Central Sand Plains Poor Fen
Central Sand Plains Shrub Carr
Forest Transition Northern Mesic Forest--early seral
Forest Transition Northern Mesic Forest--late seral
Forest Transition Northern Mesic Forest--mid seral
Forest Transition Northern Mesic Forest--young seral
Forest Transition Northern Wet-mesic Forest
North Central Forest Aspen-Birch
North Central Forest Northern Mesic Forest--early seral
North Central Forest Northern Mesic Forest--late seral
North Central Forest Northern Mesic Forest--mid seral
North Central Forest Northern Mesic Forest--young seral
North Central Forest Northern Wet-mesic Forest
North Central Forest Alder Thicket
North Central Forest Emergent Marsh
North Central Forest Ephemeral Pond
North Central Forest Muskeg
North Central Forest Open Bog
North Central Forest Poor Fen
Northern Highland Aspen-Birch
Northern Highland Emergent Marsh
Northern Highland Muskeg
Northern Highland Open Bog
Northern Highland Poor Fen
Northwest Lowlands Aspen-Birch
Northwest Lowlands Open Bog
Northwest Lowlands Poor Fen
Southeast Glacial Plains Floodplain Forest
Southeast Glacial Plains Bog Relict
Southeast Glacial Plains Emergent Marsh
Southeast Glacial Plains Ephemeral Pond
Southeast Glacial Plains Shrub Carr
Superior Coastal Plain Aspen-Birch
Superior Coastal Plain Emergent Marsh
Superior Coastal Plain Open Bog
Superior Coastal Plain Poor Fen
Superior Coastal Plain Great Lakes Coastal Fen
Western Coulee and Ridges Floodplain Forest
Western Coulee and Ridges Southern Mesic Forest
Western Coulee and Ridges Emergent Marsh
Western Coulee and Ridges Shrub Carr

* Ecological priority score is a relative measure that is not meant for comparison between species. This score does not consider socio-economical factors that may dictate protection and/or management priorities differently than those determined solely by ecological analysis. Further, a low ecological priority score does not imply that management or preservation should not occur on a site if there are important reasons for doing so locally.

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Issues/threats and conservation actions

Conservation actions respond to issues or threats, which adversely affect species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) or their habitats. Besides actions such as restoring wetlands or planting resilient tree species in northern communities, research, surveys and monitoring are also among conservation actions described in the WWAP because lack of information can threaten our ability to successfully preserve and care for natural resources.

Threats/issues and conservations actions for rare animals

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Last revised: Monday, November 18, 2019