Fun Shenandoah Salamander Facts For Kids

Rhea Nischal
Feb 29, 2024 By Rhea Nischal
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Sonali Rawat
Discover fascinating Shenandoah salamander facts about its talus habitat, population, appearance, and more!
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.8 Min

The Shenandoah salamander, Plethodon shenandoah, is an endangered species of terrestrial salamander. It belongs to the Plethodontidae family, and the genus Plethodon. Like all the members of their family, the Shenandoah salamanders are lungless salamanders and respire through their skin. Efficient breathing is dependent upon the ability to maintain the skin's moisture levels. Lungless salamanders are believed to be indigenous to Eastern North America's Appalachians. Their body possesses a dark brown-black coloration along with a narrow red or yellow stripe, extending towards the tail from the head's base. This stripe can be absent at times too and their belly is completely black. These salamanders are often assumed to be eastern red-backed salamanders as these two species are quite similar. These rare creatures can be seen only in the Shenandoah National Park, Virginia.

They are nocturnal creatures that dwell in three mountain peaks in a small range of areas. As their habitat range is quite limited, there is competition between other species. They also face threats like climate change, due to which their populations across the three mountains-Hawksbill, Stony Man, and the Pinnacles are vulnerable to extinction. The conservation status of the Shenandoah salamanders is Vulnerable as per the IUCN's Red List. The Shenandoah salamander has to inhabit the dry talus environment, as climate change cannot be tolerated by the red-backed salamanders. Decreasing the human activities that affect their habitat is highly necessary for the conservation and growth of their populations.

Keep reading to get to know fascinating facts about the Shenandoah salamanders' habitat, appearance, diet, and more! If you enjoyed reading our Shenandoah salamander fun facts, you must check out our tiger salamander facts for kids and giant salamander surprising facts as well!

Shenandoah Salamander Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Shenandoah salamander?

The Shenandoah salamander, Plethodon Shenandoah, is a salamander that is a member of the family Plethodontidae which also comprises the spring salamander. It is a member of the Plethodon genus whose members are commonly called the woodland salamanders.

What class of animal does a Shenandoah salamander belong to?

The Shenandoah salamanders belong to the class Amphibia.

How many Shenandoah salamanders are there in the world?

The population of these salamanders is approximated to be in the range of 110,262-140,625 individuals. However, this amphibian species faces significant threats like climate change and habitat loss.

Where does a Shenandoah salamander live?

The Shenandoah salamander species is assumed to be indigenous to Eastern North America's Appalachians. Their distribution is endemic to the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, where it can be spotted on the north-facing talus slopes of Hawksbill, the Pinnacles, and Stony Man mountains. It can be seen across the moist areas across the talus slopes, as the talus slopes are usually dry. The talus slopes have a dry environment and are not favorable. However, these terrestrial salamanders are denied access to the forest areas that have moist soil by the red-backed salamander.

What is a Shenandoah salamander's habitat?

This endangered species of Virginia can be spotted in forested areas typically. They can be observed only in the Shenandoah National Park's high elevation peaks as they require a cool habitat. These terrestrial salamanders require forest cover as it supports a higher level of moisture in the ground, in the otherwise dry talus areas. Shenandoah salamanders prefer moist micro-habitats on top of the mountains of Shenandoah. The dry talus habitat is least preferred by them. Because of competition from similar species, red-backed salamander, the Shenandoah salamanders are excluded from the optimal deep moist soil habitats. Their small range of distribution added along with their exclusion to the optimal habitats has led to this species being classified as a Federally Endangered one.

Who do Shenandoah salamander live with?

These salamanders are solitary in nature and spend the majority of their day beneath rocks or rock crevices and logs, like all woodland salamanders, as rocks have a certain amount of moisture in them. They only socialize during the breeding season.

How long does a Shenandoah salamander live?

This salamander's life history is not yet known, but we do know that the life span of this amphibian,  can be as long as 25 years!

How do they reproduce?

These creatures become sexually active at the age of three years. The average clutch size produced by females is 13 eggs with the range being  4–19 eggs. Eggs are laid every year in early summer or in the late spring season. The female Shenandoah salamander mate only after they have turned four years old. The eggs are laid in high moisture areas and are incubated for 1-3 months, during which, the nest is guarded by the female. Fertilization of these eggs happens inside the female's body and the development happens inside the egg. Their nymphs do not go through an aquatic larval stage.

What is their conservation status?

These creatures has been listed as Vulnerable species in the IUCN's Red List. This species only occurs in the Shenandoah National Park mountain tops only. They are highly threatened by the eastern red-backed salamanders who are known to be quite aggressive as they exclude the Shenandoah salamanders from dwelling in the humid forested area. Thus, the Shenandoah salamander has to inhabit a dry talus environment, as climate change cannot be tolerated by the red-backed salamanders. Their talus habitats are facing disintegration due to erosion, which will lead to an increase in the level of moisture as soil formation will occur as a result of this weathering. Red-backed salamanders will certainly invade this talus environment leading to the extinction of the Shenandoah species. The two species are in constant competition with each other over territories that have high moisture soil.

Shenandoah Salamander Fun Facts

What do Shenandoah salamander look like?

The Shenandoah salamander is a moderate-sized salamander that is quite slender and has a length range of 3.5-4.5 inches (8.8-11.4 cm). It has two unique color phases, unstriped and striped. Their striped color phase has a narrow red or yellow stripe that runs down its back's middle. The unstriped color phase has brass-colored flecks occasionally over its uniformly dark-colored body.  Yellow or white spots on the sides of its dark body are common in both color phases. It is quite similar to the red-backed salamander (Plethodon cinereus) in appearance, but is distinguishable. Shenandoah salamander's stripe runs as long as one-third of the dorsal area, whereas in the red-backed salamander it is thicker and runs up to two-third of the dorsal region.

The Shenandoah salamander has a striped as well as unstriped color phase!

How cute are they?

This Vulnerable species is quite cute as they are so tiny and have very small legs and big eyes.

How do they communicate?

Shenandoah salamanders communicate with each other through chemicals and touch. They are less aggressive than the red-backed salamanders when it comes to being defensive. They rarely invade the territories of eastern red-backed salamanders. Their defense tactics include snapping, instead of biting, at the intruders.

How big is a Shenandoah salamander?

The Shenandoah salamanders range between 3.5-4.5 in (8.8-11.4 cm) in length. They have approximately the same length range as the arboreal salamander.

How fast can a Shenandoah salamander run?

The speed of these salamanders is not yet known. However, we do know that they aid in soil aeration and affect the soil positively by burrowing.

How much does a Shenandoah salamander weigh?

The weight of these salamanders is not yet evaluated. However, red-backed salamander adult weighs 0.018 oz (0.5 g) on average.

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names for male and female salamanders of this species.

What would you call a baby Shenandoah salamander?

A baby of the Shenandoah salamanders is known as nymphs.

What do they eat?

These creatures spend the majority of their time beneath rocks or rock crevices as well as logs and forage for springtails, flies, beetles, insects, and mites at night in wet weather. They search for food during moist nights on leaf litter's surface as well as on low vegetation, just like their neighbors, the eastern red-backed salamanders (Plethodon cinereus). They mainly feed upon a wide range of small-sized insects, centipedes, worms, and arachnids. Their predators are not known, but we do know that  red-backed salamanders are the primary food source of small mammals, birds who forage on the ground, snakes, and giant salamanders.

Are they poisonous?

No, these creatures are not poisonous.

Would they make a good pet?

This species is highly endangered and faces extinction in the future if the appropriate conservation efforts are not made. They cannot be kept as pets.

Did you know...

It is one of the tetrapod vertebrates (four feet) in the world that has a limited range, existing in a range of only 800 ac (3.2 sq km).

Why is the Shenandoah salamander endangered?

The Shenandoah salamander has a limited habitat range because of the aggressive red-backed salamanders not allowing them shelter in the deeply forested areas.  Because of their habitat threats, they were classified as an endangered species by the commonwealth of Virginia in 1987 and federally in 1989.  Thus, the Shenandoah salamander has to inhabit a dry talus environment, as climate change cannot be tolerated by red-backed salamanders. Their talus habitats are facing disintegration due to erosion, which will lead to an increase in the level of moisture as soil formation will occur as a result of this weathering. Red-backed salamanders will certainly invade this talus environment leading to the extinction of the Shenandoah species. The two species are in constant competition with each other over territories that have high moisture soil.

What national park is named after a salamander?

The Shenandoah National Park is named after this salamander. This national park is situated in Virginia and is home to  110,262-140,625 individuals.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these pool frog fun facts and natterjack toad surprising facts pages.

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

Shenandoah Salamander Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Mites, flies, springtails, small beetles, and other invertebrates

What Type of Animal were they?

Insectivore

Average Litter Size?

4–19 eggs

How Much Did They Weigh?

N/A

What habitat Do they Live In?

north-facing talus slopes, high elevation forested areas

Where Do They Live?

three mountains of shenandoah national park, virginia-hawksbill, stony man, and the pinnacles mountains

How Long Were They?

3.5-4.5 in (8.8 - 11.4 cm)

How Tall Were They?

N/A

Class

Amphibia

Genus

Plethodon

Family

Plethodontidae

Scientific Name

Plethodon shenandoah

What Do They Look Like?

Red to yellow and brass

Skin Type

Wet, slimy scales

What Are Their Main Threats?

climate change, pollution, invasive species, and human activities

What is their Conservation Status?

Vulnerable
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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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