Discover Maryland's Herps

Field Guide to Maryland's Salamanders and Newts
(Order Caudata)

Eastern Red-backed Salamander
(Plethodon cinereus)

Eastern Red-back Salamander - Lead-backed and Red-backed morphs courtesy of Mark Tegges
Photo of Eastern Red-backed Salamander Lead-backed
and Red-backed morphs courtesy of Mark Tegges


  • 2 - 4 in. 
  • Record - 5 in.
  • Appearance

    Two color variants occur in Maryland.

  • The “redback” has a straight-edged reddish stripe (sometimes orange, yellow or dark grey) running the length of its back from the base of the head to tail, with dark sides.
  • The “leadback” is uniformly dark gray to black. 
  • Both have mottled bellies of black and white or “salt and pepper”, and both can be found under the same log.
  • Photo 5: Habitat photo of Eastern Red-Backed Salamander courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers
    Habitat photo for Eastern Red-backed Salamander
    courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers


  • Any forested area, where they are typically found during the daytime under rocks, logs and other coarse woody debris, where they lay their eggs. 
  • This is the most common terrestrial salamander in Maryland.
  • Maryland Distribution Map
     Maryland Distribution Map of Eastern Red-backed Salamander

    Return to Field Guide to Maryland Salamanders

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    Maryland Amphibian
    and Reptile Atlas Project

    "A Joint Project of the Natural History Society of Maryland, Inc. and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources"

    For monthly newsletters of the Maryland Amphibian & Reptile Atlas Project click on Recent Newsletters and scroll down to the MARA Newsletters.

    The Maryland Herpetology Field Guide is a cooperative effort of the MD Natural Heritage Program and the MD Biological Stream Survey within the Department of Natural Resources and their partners. We wish to thank all who contributed field records, text, and photographs, as well as support throughout its development.