Wide ranging through the eastern United States, from central New York through the Florida panhandle, and west through eastern Ohio, and most of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi. South of Delaware, it is absent from the coastal areas along the Atlantic.
This species is semi-aquatic and spends more time in wet environments in the hot summer months. It prefers slow-moving woodland springs and seepage areas. In the cooler months, it is more terrestrial and spends time in burrows, or under logs, rocks, or sphagnum moss in woodlands, swamps, fields, or meadows.
A somewhat large, heavy-bodied salamander averaging 11-18 cm in total length. It has thick, sturdy legs and a wide, flattened head with a very rounded snout. Its tail is no longer than its body, very thick at the base, and then becomes laterally compressed. Juveniles typically start out brown with subtle black dorsal spots. Adults develop a vibrant orange to red coloration with many distinct black spots on their dorsal surfaces. Its ventrum is slightly paler than the dorsum, and has very muted or no spotting. Its golden eyes are relatively small and set far apart.
Learn more with Schechter Natural History's Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians