Southern Two-lined Salamander Eurycea cirrigera

Description: Adult Morphology: A small, yellow salamander with a dark stripe down each side of the body. Dorsal color of Two-lined Salamanders ranges from bright yellow to a dull, brownish yellow. The stripe on each side is wide and black. In-between the stripes, small dark speckling is often present. Ventral coloration is yellowish and lighter towards the center.

Size: southern two-lined salamanders grow to be about 3.5-4 inches in total length.

Larvae: Larvae are dark yellow with dark, speckled pigmentation dorsally. They have low fins and transform at around 2-2.5 inches in total length. They have several paired, light-colored spots on the dorsum, distinguishing them from Eurycea longicauda.

Eggs: Eggs are whitish and surrounded by gel membranes. They are most frequently laid under rocks in small streams in single-layered clusters of about 20-100 eggs.

Similar Species: The long-tailed salamander (Eurycea longicauda) is generally larger, has dark spots dorsally, and has a longer, compressed tail with dark chevron markings laterally. These two species are often found in the same streams throughout southern and central Indiana. The cave salamander (Eurycea lucifuga) is generally larger and orange-red with dark spots dorsally and a longer, rounded tail. These two species are often found in the same streams throughout southern Indiana. The northern dusky salamander (Desmognathus fuscus) is more robust and generally brownish in coloration with a light line running from its eyes to its jaw. These two species are often found in the same streams throughout southern Indiana.

Distribution: This species is found throughout most of the eastern United States east of the Mississippi River south of Michigan and north of peninsular Florida.

Southern two-lined salamanders range throughout most of Indiana, with the exception of the northern lakes and swamps and the southwestern floodplains.

Activity: Two-lined salamanders are active throughout most of the spring, summer, and fall, and they can occasionally be flipped during mild winter days as well. I have observed these salamanders through most months of the year.

Breeding Season: Breeding of these salamanders reportedly occurs in late March and April. Eggs are laid in within a few weeks, and they hatch in late May or June. Larvae over-winter before transforming the next spring or summer.

Taxonomy: The southern two-lined salamander (Eurycea cirrigera) has no subspecies. It belongs to the genus Eurycea, which is represented in Indiana by 2 other species, and is in the family Plethodontidae.

Ecology: Habitat: Two-lined salamanders require rocky streams that hold some water through the entire year. Sometimes these creeks are concentrated to small pools in the summer. Adults are most frequently flipped under rocks and other cover items in and around these streams, though they will occasionally wander into surrounding forestland.

Diet: Larval two-lined salamanders feed on a variety of aquatic invertebrates, and adults feed primarily on an assortment of terrestrial invertebrates found while foraging around their streams.

Reproduction and Life History: Little is known about the breeding of two-lined salamanders. They move towards their streams just prior to breeding, but it is not completely certain whether courtship always occurs on land or occasionally underwater.

Conservation: This is one of the most common and widespread salamanders in the state and is generally abundant in streams where it occurs.

Literature

Conant, R. and J. T . Collins. 1998. Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Third Edition, Expanded. Houghton Mifflin, New York, New York

Minton, S. A. Jr. 2001. Amphibians and Reptiles of Indiana. Indiana Academy of Science, Indianapolis, IN

Petranka, J. W. 1998. Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institute Press, Washington D.C.

Distribution Map
Distribution map of Southern Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea cirrigera)
Photographs