Fun Red-Cheeked Salamander Facts For Kids

Rhea Nischal
May 08, 2023 By Rhea Nischal
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Deeti Gupta
Discover captivating Red-cheeked Salamander facts about its appearance, habitat, diet, and more!
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.6 Min

The Red-Cheeked salamander, Plethodon jordani, is a terrestrial amphibian that is commonly referred to as Jordan's red-cheeked salamander, Appalachian woodland salamander (named after the mountains it inhabits), and Jordan's salamander. These red-cheeked salamanders belong to the Plethodontidae family.

Earlier, the Red-cheeked salamanders had seven subspecies further, which are recognized as complex and distinct closely related species. Jordan's salamanders have orange, yellow, or red-colored cheek patches.

Their body is either black or gray. These salamanders can be commonly found in the soaring elevations of the Appalachian mountains of the South and the Eastern United States where they are observed to have red-colored legs.

The salamanders found in Tennessee and North Carolina have red cheeks as well as red limbs. You can spot these small creatures at the soaring elevations of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as well.

The Red-cheeked salamanders have a home range that is not large and lay their eggs in underground cavities. If you want to know more about this red-cheeked salamander, like its habitat, appearance, diet, and more, we suggest you keep reading!

If you love reading about the Red-cheeked salamanders, we are sure you'll find our animal facts about  Barton Springs salamanders and dwarf salamanders captivating.

Red-Cheeked Salamander Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Red-cheeked Salamander?

The Red Cheeked Salamander, Plethodon jordani, is a salamander species belonging to the family Plethodontidae that is lungless. It is one of the 655 species of salamanders in the world. They a terrestrial species that range in size from 3.5-7.5 in (8.8-18.4cm). They have a complex breathing mechanism as they are lungless.

These salamanders breathe through their body and depend upon external temperatures for respiration. This is the reason why they have to inhabit moist environments. Their skin is very slimy.

What class of animal does a Red-cheeked Salamander belong to?

The Red Cheeked Salamander, Plethodon jordani, is a member of the class Amphibia. These species, are cold-blooded and require outside temperatures to maintain and control their body temperature.

How many Red-cheeked Salamanders are there in the world?

The estimated population size of the Red-cheeked salamander is unknown. However, we do know that this species' population is stable. The problem is that its range of residence is below 1900 sq mi (5000 sq km).

Where does a Red-cheeked Salamander live?

The woodland salamander populations can be seen from Virginia to northern Georgia and South and North Carolina and Tennessee in the Appalachian Mountains. These woodland salamanders can be located in the Appalachian Mountains from 700 ft up to the highest altitudes of humid, forests.

This amphibian species is the most prevalent woodland salamander species in their range that can be spotted in the southern Appalachian Mountains easily.

What is a Red-cheeked Salamander's habitat?

The Red-cheeked salamander, Plethodon jordani, inhabits moist and cool forests. Jordan's salamanders prefer habitats that have significant yearly precipitation, ranging from deep mountain valleys to ridgelines.

They are observed in the southern regions of their range of locations at low elevations. They typically stay underground.

They can be spotted on the forest floor at night time looking for food. The grounds of forests it inhabits have a thick layer of moss and are residence for a large number of this species During the daytime, they can be spotted beneath rocks as well as logs.

Their home range is approximately 120 sq ft (11 sq m).

This species can be commonly found in red spruce (plant) forests as well as Fraser fir forests. It can also be found at the high altitudes of the Great Smoky Mountains Park.

Who do Red-cheeked Salamanders live with?

It is not known with whom these salamander species live, however, closely related, lungless species populations gather around in clusters of the same kind of salamander if the moisture or area is less.

How long does a Red-cheeked Salamander live?

The average life expectancy of the Red-Cheeked salamander, Plethodon jordani,  is 9.8-10 years.

How do they reproduce?

Their breeding starts in early summer or late spring. The males emanate pheromones to attract females as part of courtship rituals. The male does a lot of rocky movements.

The male also pokes the female with his mouth. The female reciprocates by doing some head movements. Not much is known about their reproduction as a nest has never been found. However, it is assumed that they lay their eggs in underground cavities.

The females guard the eggs until they hatch. The hatchlings of Jordan's salamanders do not pass an aquatic larval stage. Upon hatching, these juvenile salamanders look like tiny adults without having a larval stage.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the Red-Cheeked salamander, Plethodon jordani, is Near Threatened as per the IUCN's Red List of Endangered Species. Their populations in the western region of North Carolina have faced a decline over time.

Some harvesting techniques are causing harm to their natural habitat, the forest. This species doesn't provide humans with any known ecological benefit nor do they cause any type of harm.

Red-Cheeked Salamander Fun Facts

What do Red-cheeked Salamanders look like?

Jordan's salamanders range in size from 3.5-7.5 in (8.8-18.4 cm), with the longest yet seen being 7.5 in (18.4 cm). Their body is gray or black, with red limbs or red cheek patches. The cheek patches are the eye-catching characteristic of this salamander.

Salamanders that inhabit the southern Appalachian Mountains have red-colored limbs, whereas those from North Carolina and Tennessee have red limbs as well as red cheek patches. They are solid gray or black in other areas.

There are coastal grooves, which generally number 16. They are shorter as well as slimmer if compared to the slimy salamanders. The white marks are also absent.

A Fire Salamander on the grass.

*We've been unable to source an image of a red-cheeked salamander and have used an image of a fire salamander instead. If you can provide us with a royalty-free image of a red-cheeked salamander, we would be happy to credit you. Please contact us at

How cute are they?

The Red-cheeked salamander is a cute tiny creature. Their red check patches make them look adorable as it seems like they are blushing.

These species, Plethodon jordani, like most amphibians and reptiles, are cold-blooded and require outside temperatures to regulate their own body's temperature. This results in them having slimy skin.

It is best not to handle them with your own hands as their defense mechanism can kick in, giving you a painful bite or a toxic mucus, making you forget all the cuteness in their appearance.

How do they communicate?

This species, P. jordani, communicates by emanating pheromones. These pheromones are an important tactic in attracting a mate during the mating period. During the breeding season, they also perform courtship displays and movements to attract females.

How big is a Red-cheeked Salamander?

The Red Cheeked Salamander size is quite small with a length ranging between 3.5-7.5 in (8.8-18.4 cm). The longest Red-cheeked Salamander ever observed was 7.5 in (18.4 cm) long.

How fast can a Red-cheeked Salamander move?

Their speed is not yet known. However, P. jordani dwells in the mountains and is highly terrestrial.

How much does a Red-cheeked Salamander weigh?

These tiny amphibians, Plethodon jordani, species weigh very little between the range of 0.05-0.1 oz (2.5-2.9 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The male and female salamanders have no particular name as per their gender.

What would you call a baby Red-cheeked Salamander?

A baby red-cheeked salamander after it hatches is known as a hatchling.

What do they eat?

The diet of this salamander (Plethodon jordani) includes moths, spiders, beetles, flies, snails, insect larvae, and aphids. They search for prey on the forest floor.

The major predators of this salamander include large birds, the spring salamanders,  and the black-belly salamander. They hide under the forest floor while the predator is in search of prey.

When the salamander is under attack, as a defense mechanism, it twists its tail in the direction of the predator and emanates toxic and sticky mucus.

This brave salamander sometimes bites the snake's head or sometimes it loops its tail around the head of the predator. Another defense mechanism is shedding their tail (they can shed their tail easily) which provides food for the predator while the salamander escapes.

Are they poisonous?

These species, like most amphibians and reptiles, are cold-blooded. They are poisonous to animals as the mucus they release to scare away predators is toxic.

Would they make a good pet?

There are no known instances of these mountain-dwelling salamanders being kept as pets. However, as these species have a Near Threatened status, it is better not to keep them as pets, as it could add to the cause of the diminishing population.

Did you know...

During the breeding season, the males behave in a complex way. They pretend to be females by mimicking the movements and actions of females, to waste the time of other males for their amusement!

The Red-cheeked salamander plush toy is a widely loved cuddling toy for kids.

Do they bite?

Yes, if the salamander is attacked, it can bite. They pose no threat to humans though. We suggest you do not go near them or try to touch them.

Are they slimy?

Yes, these black-colored salamanders are very slimy. They also emit slimy secretions to scare away predators

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other amphibians from our yellow-spotted salamander facts and arboreal salamander fun facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable red-cheeked salamander coloring pages.

Please note the main image is not of a fire salamander. If you can provide us with a royalty-free image of a red-cheeked salamander, we would be happy to credit you. Please contact us at

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Written by Rhea Nischal

Bachelor of Business Administration specializing in Management

Rhea Nischal picture

Rhea NischalBachelor of Business Administration specializing in Management

A background in Business Administration and Management from MCM DAV College, Rhea has led her to work for her father's global business. However, her passion for content production, where she manages operations to ensure all processes run smoothly. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the piano and spending time with her one-year-old nephew.

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Fact-checked by Deeti Gupta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

Deeti Gupta picture

Deeti GuptaBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

A detail-oriented fact-checker with a research-oriented approach. Devika has a passion for creative writing, she has been published on multiple digital publishing platforms and editorials before joining the Kidadl team. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from St.Xavier's College, Deeti has won several accolades and writing competitions throughout her academic career.

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