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Species Description- Mountain Dusky Salamander
Desmognathus ochrophaeus

Mountain Dusky Salamander
Mountain Dusky Salamander
Desmognathus ochrophaeus
Wyoming County, NY

Identification- 2.5-4.5" (6-11.5 cm) A medium-sized Dusky Salamander. Like all Duskies there is a light line running from the eye to the rear of the jaw (a magnifier may be needed to see it) and the hind legs are larger than the front. Sides are very dark, blending into the mottled venter. Variable, most commonly a yellow, orange, or red stripe with straight edges runs the length of the back. There is a row of dark markings, often chevron-like, along the spine. Tail is rounded in cross section. Costal grooves 14.
    Similar Species- The tail of Northern Dusky and Seal Salamanders is keeled and triangular in cross section. Two-lined salamanders have a yellow stomach and high keel on the tail. All members of the genus Plethodon have hind legs the same size as the front.

Range- Found in all of New York except for the northern-most and eastern-most parts of the state, south through Pennsylvania, where it is absent from the southeast quarter.

Mountain Dusky Salamander Range Map- NY Mountain Dusky Salamander Range Map- PA

Habitat- Usually within 150 ft. of streams and seepages in woodland areas. More terrestrial than other Dusky Salamanders.

Reproduction- Jaw of males is not straight, but wave-like. Mating anytime from spring to fall. 8-24 (avg=16) Eggs are deposited in grape-like clusters under cover objects or underground near water. Females tend the nest. Larval stage lasts from 4 weeks to 8 months. It takes 3-4 years for Mountain Dusky Salamanders to reach maturity.

General Characteristics-
This salamander has also been called Allegheny Dusky Salamander, Allegheny Mountain Salamander, or Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander. They are a common species in suitable habitat. In the southern parts of their range Mountain Duskies are quite variable, mimicking other species of salamander in the range which may or may not be toxic. These salamanders congregate in the winter months and several may utilize the same hibernation site. Nocturnal, this species may be found climbing trees and shrubs at night while searching for food. Like most lungless salamanders the Mountain Dusky feeds on a wide variety of small invertebrates.  An interesting defensive behavior I have had the fortune of witnessing is the salamander waves its tail in slow motion at its attacker (me in this case).  I was interested in what would happen, so I grabbed the tail, the tip of which immediately detached itself from the body and the salamander made its getaway.