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Northern Two-lined Salamander

Eurycea bislineata

Northern two-lined salamander © Scott Gillingwater

Characteristics

The northern two-lined salamander has a yellowish olive stripe down its back bordered by two black lines. Its sides may be mottled and the belly is usually a paler shade of yellow. Adults have short stocky limbs and can grow to 12 centimetres in length, the tail making up about half of the total length.

Northern two-lined salamander © Scott Gillingwater

Similar Species

The northern dusky salamander species found in Ontario is somewhat similar to the northern two-lined salamander but can be readily distinguished from it by the light line that runs diagonally from the eye to the jaw. Eastern red-backed salamanders are dark grey, and many of them have a wide red band running down the back. Four-toed salamanders have four toes on their hind feet and a white belly with black spots.

Habitat

This salamander dehydrates more readily than other lungless salamanders and so generally is found close to streams. This species is associated with moderately to fast-flowing rocky streams, which may be tiny creeks or actual rivers, in deciduous or mixed forests. During the day, the northern two-lined salamanders can be found under nearby rocks. It spends the winter buried in the stream bed or tucked away in sheltered rocky or gravelly areas.

Northern two-lined salamander © Joe Crowley

View an interactive map of the known ranges of northern two-lined salamanders.

Have you seen a northern dusky salamander?

Beaver River, Uxbridge © Sean Marshall

Biology

The northern two-lined salamander breeds in the fall or spring, but the female lays up to 200 eggs in the spring, generally on the underside of submerged rocks. The female often stays with the eggs until they hatch in one to two months. The larvae are approximately one centimetre in length when they hatch and take up to three years to transform into an adult salamander. By then they will be roughly four centimetres long, and they usually reach maturity by the next spring.

This salamander’s short stocky limbs are an adaptation to living in swift-moving water. Northern two-lined salamanders are active mostly at night, especially after rains. They eat a wide variety of both terrestrial and aquatic insects and other invertebrates.

Other names: Salamandra bislineata, two-lined salamander 

Northern two-lined salamander juvenile © Scott Gillingwater

Threats and Trends

Many salamanders are killed on roads. During summer, two-lined salamanders may venture as far as several hundred metres from their home stream to forage. Reports of road-killed salamanders can help researchers identify critical migration corridors. Information about the abundance and distribution of northern two-lined salamanders in Ontario is generally lacking, and no evidence exists of widespread population declines.

Northern two-lined salamander © Scott Gillingwater

Current Status and Protection

Neither the Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario nor the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada has assessed the status of the northern two-lined salamander. The species has been designated as a Specially Protected Amphibian under the Ontario Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, which offers protection to individuals but not their habitat. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the global status of the northern two-lined salamander as Least Concern. The species’ status was confirmed in January 2010.

Learn more about reptile and amphibian conservation and what you can do to help these species on our Reptile and Amphibian Stewardship page.

Northern two-lined salamander © Scott Gillingwater