You probably know that South Carolina has tons of different amphibians and reptiles, from alligators to lizards, frogs, and turtles.
However, you may not know that it’s home to an amazing variety of salamanders!
In this post, we’ll look at the 17 different types of salamanders in South Carolina, along with some advice about where to find them.
So whether you’re looking for something unique to add to your yard or just curious about our state’s interesting wildlife, read on to learn more!
1. Eastern Newt
This salamander has a small head with a blunt snout and wide mouth. These types of salamanders in south Carolina are yellow or tan, while their back is brown or grayish-brown with dark blotches.
It has four toes on each front foot and five on each hind foot. Eastern newts are typically between 5 and 6 1/2 inches long, though they can grow up to 8 1/2 inches.
Eastern newts live for about six years, spending most of their time under fallen leaves or logs at pond edges, usually no deeper than 7 feet into the water, waiting for prey (earthworms, insects) to come by so they can catch it. These types of salamanders in south Carolina mate from March through May.
2. Spotted Salamander
While it might be the most common salamander species, finding a spotted salamander is not easy. These types of salamanders in south Carolina spend most of their time hiding under rocks or logs.
They’re called spotted for a reason—while their black color makes them difficult to see (in contrast with their lighter spots) beneath leaves, you can usually find them because they like lurking around damp spots.
While it might be the most common salamander species in our state, finding a spotted salamander is actually easy. These types of salamanders in south Carolina spend most of their time hiding under rocks or logs.
3. Eastern Tiger Salamander
The eastern tiger salamander is typically a gray, black, or brown salamander with yellow spots. These types of salamanders in south Carolina are large creatures that can reach between 5-7 inches long. Their underbelly is white with either small black spots or stripes.
The Eastern tiger salamander lives near small bodies of water like ponds, swamps, or rivers. They puff up like a little ball and secrete toxic skin secretions.
This can cause minor irritation but no serious damage to an attacker. These types of salamanders prefer habitats that have mud bottoms.
4. Four-Toed Salamanderr
Found throughout S.C., they’re hard to miss: 4-toed salamanders are typically bright yellow, with large black scars on their backs and bellies.
The blotches sometimes merge, forming bands down their sides. You can find them along riverbanks, in near-standing water that doesn’t dry out for most of the year, or inside rotting logs that hang over streams.
These types of salamanders in south Carolina get big 4-toed salamanders and have been known to grow up to 8 inches long and are often mistaken for baby crocodiles when first hatched from eggs laid under rocks.
5. Marbled Salamander
The marbled salamander is a species native to North America, living between Canada and Mexico. It is considered an amphibian with a four-legged body. Its appearance is similar to that of a turtle but has no limbs.
This species measures 1/2 – 2 1/2 (1.3cm – 6.4cm) across its body and will grow to 3 1/4 (8 cm). The coloration of marbled salamander changes as it ages, becoming dark brown when it reaches maturity.
6. Northern Dusky Salamander
The northern dusky salamander (Desmognathus fuscus) is a small, dark salamander that can be distinguished from other dusky salamanders by its distinctively rounded tail.
These salamanders in south Carolina are common throughout the northeastern United States and southern Canada, particularly in moist environments such as ponds, lakes, and bogs. Dusky salamanders measure about 4-7 centimeters long. Females are larger than males.
They breed between April and June, with egg laying occurring about a week after mating. Their eggs hatch in late July or early August, two months later. The young hatchlings range from 2-6 millimeters long at birth.
7. Red Salamander
The red salamander is characterized by three rows of large, brown scars that run from head to tail. These types of salamanders in south Carolina turn reddish-orange during the breeding season, which occurs when spring rains bring out males for mating.
Red salamanders inhabit moist forests dominated by hardwoods, and juveniles and adults spend most of their time hiding under logs or rocks near swift streams where insects can be found.
The diet consists primarily of insect larvae; however, some larger red salamanders will consume smaller frogs when they find them nearby.
Red salamanders can mate from mid-March until early June, with eggs hatching within 50–60 days after they’re laid.
8. Southern Two-Lined Salamander
The Southern Two-Lined Salamander, one of 17 different types of salamanders in South Carolina, is a small lizard that measures roughly 5–8 inches. The skin is smooth with small pores on its back and a gray coloring with dark blotches.
This particular species can be found throughout much of the southern portion of our state and northern Georgia.
To find these amphibians, look under large rocks around ponds and lakes. These types of salamanders in south Carolina are carnivorous, eating insects like beetles and worms.
If you see a rock moving near a pond or lake, do not grab it! These little guys don’t want to be handled!
9. Three-lined Salamander
(Eurycea Triangulum) The three-lined salamander is a brownish, medium-sized salamander with three yellow stripes on its body.
It gets its name from two black stripes down its back and a lateral stripe along its flanks. South Carolina salamanders five areas throughout North America, from Alaska to Mexico.
It also inhabits some parts of Europe (Alpine region). Because it’s so widespread, it isn’t considered endangered. There are four subspecies: Northern (E. t. carolinensis), Southern (E.
10. Lesser Siren
The lesser siren is a secretive, mostly nocturnal animal that spends most of its time underground or underwater. You can often see a small dirt pile near their entryways.
These types of salamanders in south Carolina are brown or reddish-brown with blotches and spots but look similar to other types of salamanders in South Carolina.
When threatened or disturbed, they may produce a loud sound like birds chirping (hence their name). Be careful not to touch them if you come across one; they secrete an irritating substance from glands at both ends that is toxic. If you find one, try photographing it and reporting it on eNature so we can learn more about it!
11. Two-toed Amphiuma
The Two-toed Amphiuma is a rare, large salamander that lives in water. It’s found only in moist lowland forests near streams or rivers. National Geographic says it breathes like fish through its skin and feathery gills.
The Two-toed Amphiuma gets its name from having two toes on its front feet instead of three like most amphibians. These creatures are nocturnal hunters that feed on crayfish, small fish, and worms.
These types of salamanders in south Carolina have sharp teeth for biting into prey. 12. Eastern Tiger Salamander: The Eastern Tiger Salamander is a medium-sized species of salamander with dark spots along its back and sides.
12. Mole Salamander
The mole salamander is a southern species found mostly in southeast Alabama, southwest Georgia, southwest Florida, northeast Louisiana, and Mississippi.
However, it may be found as far north as Virginia or Maryland. It stays underground most of its life, only emerging to breed during late winter. Females lay eggs in early spring.
These types of salamanders in south Carolina can lay from two hundred to five hundred eggs at a time! However, many do not make it through their first year, dying due to poor climate conditions or predator attacks.
During summer, females leave their burrows for about three weeks at a time, alone or with other females. They then return underground for one month before leaving again for another two weeks.
13. Holbrook’s Southern Dusky Salamander
The Holbrook’s southern dusky salamander is widely found in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
These types of salamanders in south Carolina are typically about seven inches long with a light brownish-gray body.
These salamanders are often called dusky or faintly striped due to their distinctive coloring. They enjoy cooler temperatures than other salamander species and live primarily under rocks along streamsides or within mountainous regions of each state they inhabit.
14. Spring Salamander
One of the unique salamanders, spring salamanders, don’t have any toes. These types of salamanders in south Carolina live up in trees and only come down to mate; they carry their eggs between their legs until they hatch.
The spring salamander has a wide range throughout North America and can be found on every continent except Australia and Antarctica.
15. Dwarf Salamander
The dwarf salamander is a small salamander that can be found statewide. These types of salamanders in south Carolina are typically grey or black, but some species have yellow spots on their back. This type of salamander lives under leaf litter or rocks and logs.
You can often find them near water sources, too. Dwarf salamanders eat spiders, termites, ants, and small insects.
These types of salamanders in south Carolina are brownish-black with dark blotches down their backs, which help them camouflage into tree bark when they’re hiding from predators.
These types of salamanders in south Carolina eat earthworms and other invertebrates like slugs and snails. They hibernate underground for several months in winter before emerging again in early spring to mate.
16. Mud Salamander
If you find a brown salamander with yellow blotches, that’s most likely a mud salamander. These types of salamanders in south Carolina live both on land and underwater. You can usually find them under rocks, logs, or leaf litter near creeks or ponds.
The length of their bodies ranges from about 1 to 4 inches. The mud salamander is listed as endangered by South Carolina but not federally.
While it is a protected species in our state, it has no special status elsewhere. It’s also one of three native salamanders found in South Carolina.
17. Greater Siren
It’s hard to get excited about a salamander that doesn’t even make it past its first birthday, but Greater Sirens are special. These brightly-colored amphibians use their fins as legs instead of feet for swimming and walking.
This isn’t uncommon for salamanders or aquatic species, but Greater Sirens are one of only two species known to do so.
These types of salamanders in south Carolina also don’t breed until they are four years old – a trait found in a few other animals (if any). Though they tend not to be very loud, their deep calls can travel up to half a mile away!
There are 17 types of salamanders in South Carolina, with 5 of those being non-native. For example, the endangered Fowler’s salamander was originally introduced into North America from Europe as a pet.
Invasive species such as these can cause severe problems for native wildlife since they can out-compete native organisms for resources. In addition, their larger size often makes them easier targets for predators.
When encountering one of these pets, you are advised to return it immediately to where it came from. If you have further questions about keeping or releasing your pet salamander, please feel free to contact any local SC DNR office or licensed veterinarian.