Species At Risk

Spring Salamander

(Gyrinophilus porphyriticus)
Extirpated (no longer found in Ontario)
Spring Salamander
Spring Salamander occurrences map


The Spring Salamander is the largest member of the lungless salamander family in Canada, growing up to about 20 centimetres long. Lungless salamanders “breathe” through their skin, especially the lining of the mouth.

Spring Salamanders are pinkish or yellowish brown with irregular darker markings and a stripe from below each eye to the nostrils.

Current Range

The Spring Salamander lives in the Appalachian region of eastern North America, ranging from southern Quebec to Georgia and Mississippi and west to West Virginia. In Canada it is now found only in Quebec.

Historical Range in Ontario

In Ontario, there are only two historical records of the Spring Salamander, both difficult to confirm. One record is of larvae from near Ottawa (although the locality information is questionable) and the other of larvae collected from a stream in the Niagara region in 1877. This salamander has not been reported in Ontario since then.

Why It Disappeared from Ontario

Due to the limited records in Ontario, historic threats cannot be determined.


Spring Salamanders live in springs, seepages and mountain streams. They must keep their skin moist for respiration and seldom leave the water, although adults will use terrestrial areas within two metres of the stream edge. Females lay their eggs underground beneath the streams and seeps. This species overwinters in the stream bottom or refuges under the banks to avoid freezing.


Help Make Sure We Don’t Lose More Endangered Species in Ontario

  • The Ministry of Natural Resources tracks species at risk such as the Spring 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.
  • 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 recovery. You may be eligible for stewardship programs that support the protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats.
  • Volunteer with a local nature club or provincial park to participate in surveys or stewardship work focused on species at risk.
  • Watch for reptiles and amphibians that may be crossing roads between May and October. Road mortality is a serious threat to many of these species. If it is safe to do so, help reptiles and amphibians across the road in the direction they were headed.
  • 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.

Did you know?

This amphibian is named for the habitat it prefers: cool, clear, spring-fed streams.

Did you know?

These salamanders live as larvae for up to six years, and live a total of 10 years or longer.

Did you know?

Toxic secretions from its skin and its red colour, which mimics even more toxic species, are thought to protect adult Spring Salamanders from land-based predators.

Did you know?

The Spring Salamander consumes a wide variety of food: insects, crustaceans, centipedes, millipedes, earthworms, snails, spiders, and occasionally small frogs and salamanders, including their own species.

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.