Adults are a medium-sized, orange or yellowish salamander with a long tail. Long-Tailed Salamanders have a dorsal coloration ranging from yellow to different shades of orange. Dark pigmentation mottled throughout the dorsum, especially concentrated on the sides. This continues onto the tail and is often arranged in bars. Ventral coloration is light and yellowish. Long-Tailed Salamanders grow to be 4.5-6.5 inches in total length.
Eggs of this species are rarely observed. They are yellow or whitish with a jelly-like surrounding. When these eggs are found, they are typically discovered in caves or similar habitats, suggesting that females lay eggs in dark, damp places. Larvae are similar to those of Eurycea cirrigera, although they lack the paired white spots. Hatchlings have some dark pigmentation, but this increases with age. They have a stream-lined body for life in faster water. Transformation occurs at around 2-2.5 inches in total length.
There are several species that are morphologically similar to the Long-Tailed Salamander. The Cave Salamander (Eurycea lucifuga) is more orange-red with dark spots dorsally and a rounded tail with spots. These two species are often found in the same streams throughout southern Indiana. The Southern Two-Lined Salamander (Eurycea cirrigera) is generally smaller, has two distinct lines dorsally and a shorter unmarked tail. These two species are often found in the same streams throughout central and southern Indiana. The Northern Dusky Salamander (Desmognathus fuscus) is more robust and generally brownish in coloration with a light line running from its eyes to its jaw. These two species are often found in the same streams throughout southeastern Indiana.
Ecology and Conservation
Long-Tailed Salamanders, like Southern Two-Lined Salamanders, are primarily creatures of rocky brooks. They are also encountered at the mouths and inside of caves. Long-Tailed Salamanders are often found under cover--usually rocks. However, they are commonly found in rocky crevices in along bluffs and near caves as well. Long-Tailed Salamanders are probably active from early April to late October unlike the Southern Two-Lined Salamander and Cave Salamander which can be found along streams and springs year round. Larval Long-Tailed Salamanders feed on a variety of aquatic invertebrates, and adults feed on an assortment of terrestrial invertebrates.
Little is known about the breeding of these salamanders though courtship has been partially described as a male rubbing its snout on the female. Long-Tailed Salamanders breed during the fall, and eggs are laid soon thereafter.
This species is generally abundant where it occurs and there are no known threats to populations in Indiana.
These salamanders are found throughout most of eastern North America northeast into New York and south into the panhandle of Florida. Long-Tailed Salamanders can be found throughout most of the southern half of Indiana, with the exception of the southwestern lowlands and swamps.
The Long-Tailed Salamander (Eurycea longicauda) has two recognized subspecies; Indiana populations are known as the Eastern Long-Tailed Salamander (E. l. longicauda). These salamanders belong to the family Plethodontidae, which is the world's most diverse family of salamanders.
Conant, R. and J. T . Collins. 1998. Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Third Edition, Expanded. Houghton Mifflin, New York, NY.
Minton, S. A. Jr. 2001. Amphibians and Reptiles of Indiana. Indiana Academy of Science, Indianapolis, IN.
Petranka, J. W. 1998. Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institute Press, Washington D.C.