Species At Risk

Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander

(Desmognathus ochrophaeus)


Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander
Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander occurrences map


The Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander is a small, slender salamander that reaches about 7 to 10 cm in total length. The adults usually have a light stripe down their entire back extending from the head to the tail. The stripe ranges in colour from yellow to orange to brown depending on age and sex, and often includes a row of chevron-shaped dark spots down the middle. The sides are speckled and the belly ranges in colour from dark brown to black.


The Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander is widely distributed in eastern North America. In Canada, it is found in two isolated locations: in southwestern Quebec and in the Niagara Gorge in southern Ontario.


Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamanders are found most often in or near forested small streams, springs, or seeps (areas where water in the ground oozes to the surface to form a pool). They typically nest in underground cavities close to seeps, or in shallow depressions in moist soil beneath logs, stones, moss, leaf litter or stumps. They are usually absent from larger streams where predatory fish occur. Other predators include watersnakes and birds. In Ontario, this species is found in a groundwater seep area within the Niagara Peninsula.


The Niagara area of Ontario has undergone significant development since European settlement, resulting in a loss of habitat quantity and quality. Activities that affect the quality and quantity of groundwater can result in a loss of high quality habitat that is essential to the survival of the Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander. In addition, uncontrolled stormwater runoff has caused slope instabilities in adjacent areas, leaving these salamanders vulnerable to rock falls and mudslides. Excessive human disturbances, i.e. trampling, is also a threat to this species.


The Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander is protected under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act and the federal Species at Risk Act.

In Ontario, the entire population is found on public land that is protected.

What You Can Do to Help the Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander

  • The Ministry of Natural Resources tracks species at risk such as the Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander. The Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas collects observations of all Ontario reptiles and amphibians. Submit your observations to either of these databases at nhic.mnr.gov.on.ca/species/species_report.cfm and www.ontarionature.org/atlas. Photographs are important to help confirm the identification of species and are always helpful.
  • As with all wildlife, be respectful and observe from a distance. Please do not try to catch wild salamanders. Bug repellant and oils on human hands may damage the delicate skin of these little amphibians.
  • Report any illegal activity related to plants and wildlife to 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667).
  • Private land owners have an important role to play in species at risk recovery.You may be eligible for stewardship programs that support the protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats.
  • Never buy salamanders that have been caught in the wild and never buy a native species of any kind that’s being sold as a pet.
  • Visit the Ontario reptile and Amphibian Atlas (www.ontarionature.org/atlas) or Toronto Zoo Adopt-a-Pond website (www.torontozoo.com/Adoptapond) to learn more about Ontario’s rare snakes, their habitat and related conservation initiatives.
  • Volunteer with your local nature club or provincial park to participate in surveys or stewardship work focused on species at risk.

Did you know?

The Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander was only recently discovered in Ontario in 2004. Prior to that, the Canadian population was only known to occur in Quebec.

Did you know?

These salamanders overwinter below the frost line in seeps and underground retreats where the ground temperature is fairly constant.

Did you know?

Mating and egg-laying take place in the fall and spring and involve quite an elaborate courtship, including a characteristic ‘tail-straddle’ walk.

Did you know?

When seized by a predator, the Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander has the ability to self-amputate its tail which continues to twitch, acting as an excellent diversion while the salamander escapes. A new tail soon replaces the old one.

The Endangered Species Act

Contact your local ministry office

Often the best source of local information on species at risk is your nearest ministry office. Call with your questions or concerns.