Longtail Salamander

Eurycea longicauda (Green, 1818)

Longtail Salamander
Jesse W. Jaycox

Amphibia (Amphibians)
Plethodontidae (Lungless Salamanders)
State Protection
Special Concern
Listed as Special Concern by New York State: at risk of becoming Threatened; not listed as Endangered or Threatened, but concern exists for its continued welfare in New York; NYS DEC may promulgate regulations as to the taking, importation, transportation, or possession as it deems necessary.
Federal Protection
Not Listed
State Conservation Status Rank
Imperiled or Vulnerable in New York - Very vulnerable, or vulnerable, to disappearing from New York, due to rarity or other factors; typically 6 to 80 populations or locations in New York, few individuals, restricted range, few remaining acres (or miles of stream), and/or recent and widespread declines. More information is needed to assign either S2 or S3.
Global Conservation Status Rank
Secure globally - Common in the world; widespread and abundant (but may be rare in some parts of its range).


Did you know?

Lungs are absent in the longtail salamander, as well as in all salamanders of the family Plethodontidae. Respiration is accomplished through the skin and the lining of the mouth (Conant and Collins 1998).

State Ranking Justification

Approximately ten historical locations were noted by Bishop (1941), but only one location has recently been confirmed. Approximately 12 locations were reported in 1998 and 1999 for the New York State Amphibian and Reptile Atlas. Since 1999, one additional location was reported in 2002. New York is at the northern limit of the range and the state range may be more restricted or localized than is suggested by Conant and Collins (1998). The species may also have fairly specific habitat requirements but future survey efforts are likely to confirm additional populations.

Short-term Trends

Although the short-term trends are not well understood, the statewide population is not likely to be increasing. Wherever stream water quality has been significantly reduced, populations can be expected to decline. Additional data is needed to determine if the population is stable or declining.

Long-term Trends

This species was historically located north to Albany, with approximately ten historical locations noted by Bishop (1941) but none of these have recently been confirmed. It is now possibly restricted to the southern tier and southeastern counties west of the Hudson River.

Conservation and Management


Stream channelization, siltation of streams, waterborne contaminants, pathogenic organisms, and unregulated collecting are all considered threats.

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices

There is a need to develop a management plan for this species and other selected stream salamander species in New York.

Research Needs

Research needs include determining the distribution, population status, and habitat suitability throughout the state.



Transformed individuals and adults are found in moist or wet terrestrial situations, usually along the borders of streams, swamps, seeps, marshes, etc.

Associated Ecological Communities

  • Hemlock-northern hardwood forest (guide)
    A mixed forest that typically occurs on middle to lower slopes of ravines, on cool, mid-elevation slopes, and on moist, well-drained sites at the margins of swamps. Eastern hemlock is present and is often the most abundant tree in the forest.
  • Intermittent stream* (guide)
    The community of a small, intermittent or ephemeral streambed in the uppermost segments of stream systems where water flows only during the spring or after a heavy rain and often remains longer, ponded in isolated pools. These streams typically have a moderate to steep gradient and hydric soils.
  • Marsh headwater stream* (guide)
    The aquatic community of a small, marshy perennial brook with a very low gradient, slow flow rate, and cool to warm water that flows through a marsh, fen, or swamp where a stream system originates. These streams usually have clearly distinguished meanders (i.e., high sinuosity) and are in unconfined landscapes.
  • Rich mesophytic forest (guide)
    A hardwood or mixed forest that resembles the mixed mesophytic forests of the Allegheny Plateau south of New York but is less diverse. It occurs on rich, fine-textured, well-drained soils that are favorable for the dominance of a wide variety of tree species. A canopy with a relatively large number of codominant trees characterizes this forest. Canopy codominants include five or more of the following species: red oak, red maple, white ash, American beech, sugar maple, black cherry, cucumber tree, and black birch.
  • Rocky headwater stream* (guide)
    The aquatic community of a small- to moderate-sized perennial rocky stream typically with a moderate to steep gradient, and cold water that flows over eroded bedrock, boulders, or cobbles in the area where a stream system originates.
  • Spring
    The aquatic community of very small, cold stream sources where the flow is perennial. Springs are characterized by water with constant cold temperature and are rich in dissolved oxygen.

* probable association but not confirmed.

Associated Species

  • Northern Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea bislineata)


New York State Distribution

This species formerly occurred north to Albany, but is now possibly restricted to the southern tier and southeastern counties west of the Hudson River. Within this range, it appears to be fairly localized.

Global Distribution

This species occurs from southern New York to Missouri, south to Arkansas, Tennessee, extreme northeastern Mississippi, northern Alabama, extreme northwestern Georgia, western North Carolina, and northwestern Virginia (Carlin 1997).

Best Places to See

  • Bashakill Wildlife Management Area (Sullivan County)

Identification Comments

Identifying Characteristics

The length of adults ranges from 10-15.9 cm (4-6.25 inches), with the record being 19.7 cm (7.75 inches). The ground color varies from yellow to orange or even red, and vertical black markings are present on the tail. These markings are usually conspicuous, although they may vary from the herringbone or "dumbbell" theme that is often described. The black markings on the tail are larger and more conspicuous on some individuals from scattered portions of the range. The young have a relatively short tail (Conant and Collins 1998).

Best Time to See

Longtail salamander adults are usually terrestrial and nocturnal (Pfingsten and Downs 1989). Based on observations in New York as well as observations in New Jersey and Indiana (Petranka 1998), adults are likely to be active from late April to October. Adults and juveniles disperse to winter underground retreats in October in New Jersey (Petranka 1998), and are likely to do the same in New York.

  • Present
  • Reproducing

The time of year you would expect to find Longtail Salamander present and reproducing in New York.

Similar Species

  • Northern Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea bislineata)
    Adult longtail salamanders have 13-14 costal grooves and are larger than two-lined salamanders.

Longtail Salamander Images


Longtail Salamander
Eurycea longicauda (Green, 1818)

  • Kingdom Animalia
    • Phylum Craniata
      • Class Amphibia (Amphibians)
        • Order Caudata (Salamanders)
          • Family Plethodontidae (Lungless Salamanders)

Additional Resources


Barbour, R. W. 1971. Amphibians and reptiles of Kentucky. Univ. Press of Kentucky, Lexington. x + 334 pp.

Behler, J. L., and F. W. King. 1979. The Audubon Society field guide to North American reptiles and amphibians. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 719 pp.

Bishop, S.C. 1941. The salamanders of New York. New York State Museum Bulletin No. 324. Albany, NY.

Carlin, J. L. 1997. Genetic and morphological differentiation between Eurycea longicauda longicauda and E. guttolineata (Caudata: Plethodontidae). Herpetologica 53:206-217.

Conant, R., and J. T. Collins. 1998. A field guide to reptiles and amphibians: eastern and central North America. Third edition, expanded. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Massachusetts. 616 pp.

Green, N. B., and T. K. Pauley. 1987. Amphibians and reptiles in West Virginia. University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. xi + 241 pp.

Ireland, P.H. 1979. Eurycea longicauda. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles. 221:1-4.

Martof, B. S., W. M. Palmer, J. R. Bailey, and J. R. Harrison, III. 1980. Amphibians and reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. 264 pp.

Minton, S. A., Jr. 1972. Amphibians and reptiles of Indiana. Indiana Academy Science Monographs 3. v + 346 pp.

Mount, R. H. 1975. The reptiles and amphibians of Alabama. Auburn University Agricultural Experiment Station, Auburn, Alabama. vii + 347 pp.

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2023. New York Natural Heritage Program Databases. Albany, NY.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. 1985. Checklist of the amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals of New York State, including their protective status. Nongame Unit. Wildlife Resources Center. Delmar, NY.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. 2005. Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy Planning Database. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Albany, NY.

Petranka, J.W. 1998. Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C., 587pp.

Pfingsten, R. A., and F. L. Downs, eds. 1989. Salamanders of Ohio. Bull. Ohio Biological Survey 7(2):xx + 315 pp.

Valentine, B. D. 1962. Intergrading populations and distribution of the salamander EURYCEA LONGICAUDA in the Gulf states. J. Ohio Herpetol. Soc. 3(3):42-51.


About This Guide

Information for this guide was last updated on: July 12, 2005

Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2023. Online Conservation Guide for Eurycea longicauda. Available from: https://guides.nynhp.org/longtail-salamander/. Accessed December 5, 2023.