Northern Dusky Salamander Desmognathus fuscus (Rafinesque, 1820)  Synonyms: Northern Dusky Salamander.


Northern Dusky Salamander (Desmognathus fuscus) is a rather stocky, variable brownish or blackish salamander species with a vertically-compressed, keeled tail. This is one way to distinguish it from the similar Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander (D. ochrophaeus), which has a rounded tail. Northern Duskies are found throughout Maryland except for the southern Eastern Shore counties (Wicomico County has a couple records). These salamanders usually occur under rocks or logs at stream or creek margins, and in areas with seeps or springs, usually in situations that retain moisture (Conant & Collins, 1998; Maryland DNR site). D. fuscus are known to breed in spring or autumn.


Quite variable in coloration, ranging from grayish-green or brownish to blackish. Many older individuals may be mostly patternless. This species has a keeled tail, triangular in cross-section, while the Allegheny Mountain Dusky has a round tail, which can be a useful difference to quickly separate them in the field. Viewed laterally, adult male Allegheny Mountain Dusky shows a wavy, sinuous mouth, in contrast to the less curved mouth of Northern Dusky.

There are 3,096 records in the project database.

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A Dusky Salamander in Howard Co., Maryland (3/26/2013). Photo by Bonnie Ott. (MBP list)

A Dusky Salamander from Virginia (6/1/2008). Also known as Northern Dusky Salamander, these salamander are very common in the western counties of Maryland. They are often found under rocks in streams. Notice the white line behind the eye. This is a diagnostic field mark for Dusky Salamanders. Photo by Kerry Wixted. (MBP list)

A Northern Dusky Salamander in Baltimore Co., Maryland (7/9/2015). Photo by Emily Stanley. (MBP list)

A Dusky Salamander in Baltimore Co., Maryland (4/8/2014). Photo by Frode Jacobsen. (MBP list)

A Northern Dusky Salamander in Prince George's Co., Maryland (3/19/2017). Photo by Justin Lee. (MBP list)

A Northern Dusky Salamander in Allegany Co., Maryland (4/26/2019). Photo by Bill Hubick. (MBP list)

A Northern Dusky Salamander in Harford Co., Maryland (4/25/2018). Determined By Scott McDaniel. Photo by Josh Emm. (MBP list)

A Northern Dusky Salamander guarding her eggs in Indiana (9/2007). Photo by Andrew Hoffman. (MBP list)

A Northern Dusky Salamander with her newly hatched young in Clark Co., Indiana (9/2007). Photo by Andrew Hoffman. (MBP list)

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