Unicoi State Park, White County, Georgia—May 6, 2004
I spent ten minutes or so trying to get this hyperactive salamander to sit still for a photograph. I found it under a rock at the edge of a stream. As soon as it was exposed, it leaped into the water, floated downstream about four or five feet, then lodged itself beneath an underwater rock. I then moved the new cover rock to expose it again, tried to grab it, and watched it flop and wriggle out of my hands and back into the stream. This slapstick adventure was repeated several times before we made a truce: it agreed to sit still on the shore for no more than ten seconds if I agreed to stop bothering it.
Sosebee Cove Scenic Area, Union County, Georgia—May 6, 2004
The genus Desmognathus
, or Dusky Salamanders, contains a large number of species, many of which are very difficult to tell apart. The Black-bellied Salamander is one of the largest Desmognathus
, and one of the least likely to sit still for a photograph. You've never seen a salamander squirm until you've seen a Black-bellied Salamander squirm.
This one is starting to regenerate a broken tail. The shape of the tail is one of the ways to tell various Desmognathus apart, but it's often not a very practical technique because the tails are frequently lost or damaged or just rubbed into a smooth generic shape.
Little River Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Sevier County, Tennessee—May 8, 2004
This large adult Black-bellied Salamander features a stardust pattern of light speckles.
Yellow Branch Falls Trail, Oconee County, South Carolina—April 10, 2013
I was unsuccessfully trying to locate a small frog that I had seen hop into the water when I noticed this mostly-submerged salamander out of the corner of my eye.
I had originally identified this as Desmognathus fuscus but salamander expert Todd Pierson set me straight on iNaturalist.
- Behler, J. L., King, F. W. 1979. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles & Amphibians
- Conant, R., Collins, J. T. 1998. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, Third Edition, expanded
- Crother, B. I. (ed.) 2017. Scientific and Standard English Names of Amphibians and Reptiles of North America North of Mexico, with Comments Regarding Confidence in Our Understanding, Eighth Edition
- Jensen, J. B., Camp, C. D., Gibbons, W., and Elliott, M. J. 2008. Amphibians and Reptiles of Georgia
- Petranka, J. W. 1998. Salamanders of the United States and Canada