5 Salamander species in the Brecksville Reservation (2024)

Are you going to the Brecksville salamander migration?

Although these amphibians are widespread, they can be challenging to locate. Finding them in early spring is one of the best ways to find one. Looking for salamanders is a really fun experience!

Below, you will find a list of the most common salamanders that live in Brecksville. You will find pictures to help with your identification!

5 Types of Salamanders in the Brecksville Reservation:


#1. Spotted Salamander

  • Ambystoma maculatum

salamanders in brecksville

  • Adults are 5.9 to 9.8 inches long with wide snouts. They are typically black but may also be bluish-black, dark grey, dark green, or dark brown. Their underside is slate gray or pale pink.
  • They have two uneven rows of spots down their back, from just behind their eyes to the tip of their tail. Spots on the head are orange and fade to yellow further down the body and tail.
  • Larvae are light brown or greenish-yellow with small darker spots, external gills, and fin-like tails.

The Spotted Salamander is found primarily in hardwood forests with vernal pools, which are temporary ponds created by spring rain. Like many salamanders in Brecksville, they require vernal pools for breeding because the fish in permanent lakes and ponds would eat all their eggs and larvae.

These salamanders are fossorial, meaning they spend most of their time underground. Spotted Salamanders are typically only seen above ground just after heavy rain, so you’ll need to get a little muddy to find one! They go dormant underground during the winter months and don’t come out until the breeding season between March and May.


#2. Red-backed Salamander

  • Plethodon cinereus

salamanders in brecksville

Identifying Characteristics

  • Adults range from 2 to 5 inches in length.
  • Adults can occur in two color phases: the “lead-back” is consistent gray or black, and the “red-back” has an orange to red stripe down the back and tail.
  • All adults have mottled white and black undersides and five toes on their hind feet.

Unlike other salamanders in Brecksville, Red-Backed Salamanders don’t have lungs OR gills! Instead, they “breathe” with their thin skin, absorbing oxygen through moisture. This unique trait means they must stay moist to survive.

Red-backed Salamanders are typically found beneath leaf litter, logs, bark, rocks, or burrows in deciduous forests. They have a low tolerance for dry weather, and typically you’ll only see them during or after rainfall. In the winter, they hibernate underground.

The different phases are also believed to have different methods of predator evasion. For example, the “lead-back” phase salamanders tend to run from predators, while the “red-back” phase will freeze. Both phases of the Red-backed Salamander may also drop all or part of their tail to escape a predator. Eventually, the tail will grow back, but duller in color.


#3. Northern Two-lined Salamander

  • Eurycea bislineata

  • Adults typically range from 3.5 to 3.3 inches in length though individuals up to 4.8 inches have been identified.
  • Their coloring is bright greenish-yellow to orange-yellow and sometimes brown, with flanks that are mottled grayish or brown, a line of small black flecks down the middle of their back, and two black stripes that run down their back from their eyes and break up at the base of their tail.
  • This species has five toes on the hind feet.

Look for Northern Two-Lined Salamanders in the Brecksville Reservation in moist forests near rocky streams.

These salamanders are opportunistic predators that will feed on any invertebrates that come across their path. They eat beetles, roaches, springtails, earthworms, and snails.

Northern Two-Lined Salamanders are preyed on by several species, but their response to predators varies. For instance, when attacked by birds or mammals, they raise and undulate their tails to appear larger and threatening. However, when snakes attack them, they typically freeze or flee. Dropping all or part of their tail to escape predators is common.


#4. Jefferson Salamander

  • Ambystoma jeffersonianum

salamanders in brecksville


#5. Eastern Newt

  • Notophthalmus viridescens

eastern newt

  • Larvae are aquatic and have smooth, olive green skin, narrow, fin-like tails, and feathery gills.
  • Juveniles are terrestrial and have rough, orangish-red skin with darker spots outlined in black.
  • Adults have slimy, dull olive-green skin, dull yellow undersides, darker black-rimmed spots, and a blade-like tail.

Eastern Newts have complicated life cycles.

When they’re first hatched, they spend all of their time in the water. This larval stage lasts for two to five months. After that, they metamorphose into juvenile Eastern Newts.

They live in terrestrial forest habitats for two to seven years during their juvenile stage. Even though they generally remain hidden under moist leaf litter and debris, you may see them moving about on rainy days and nights, foraging insects, worms, and spiders. This is the stage of life you’re most likely to see an Eastern Newt. If you spot one, be careful – they have glands that secrete a potent neurotoxin when they’re threatened.

Finally, Eastern Newts will migrate back to a water source and metamorphose into aquatic adults, where they eat small amphibians, fish, and worms. They can live up to 15 years and spend the rest of their lives in this aquatic form.


Which of these salamanders have you seen in the Brecksville Reservation?

Tell us about it in the comments!

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