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Order Description


Order Description

Salamanders belong to the Order Caudata. The ordinal name Caudata is from the Latin for tail, cauda, referring to the long tails of these amphibians. Members of this order are found only in North America, Eurasia, the northern coast of Africa, and northern South America. There are nine families of salamanders, eight of which are present in North America and seven in Georgia. Of the approximately 360 species of salamanders found worldwide, North America has the highest number of species, 150. The southeastern United States has more salamander species than any other region of the world and Georgia has 51 species of salamanders, more than any other southeastern state

Family Ambystomatidae

Members of this family only occur in North America. The family is composed of medium-sized, stocky salamanders which range in size from 76-203 mm (3-8 in) in total length. They are terrestrial burrowers and spend most of their adult life underground, which is why they are called Mole Salamanders. There is one genus in the United States and five species in Georgia.
Species in this family:
    Eastern Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum)
    Flatwoods Salamander (Ambystoma cingulatum)
    Marbled Salamander (Ambystoma opacum)
    Mole Salamander (Ambystoma talpoideum)
    Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum)

Family Amphiumidae

Members of this family only occur in the southeastern United States. They are the longest salamanders in North America, up to 1.16 m (46 in) in total length. These fully aquatic, eel-like salamanders have greatly reduced, non-functional legs. Georgia has two species, which are distinguished by the number of toes on each foot.
Species in this family:
    One-toed Amphiuma (Amphiuma pholeter)
    Two-toed Amphiuma (Amphiuma means)

Family Cryptobranchidae

These are giant aquatic salamanders with well-developed legs and no external gills. The Hellbender is the only member of this primitive salamander family in North America. Other members of this family are the giant aquatic salamanders of China and Japan, which reach lengths of 1.5 m (4.9 ft) and weigh up to 45 kg (100 lbs).
Species in this family:
    Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis)

Family Plethodontidae

This is the most diverse family of salamanders in the world, with over 200 species. The greatest concentration of species is found in the Appalachian Mountains of eastern North America. They are called Lungless Salamanders because they have no lungs and absorb oxygen through the skin and the lining of the mouth. In Georgia this family is represented by two subfamilies; the Desmognathinae includes one genus and nine species, and the Plethodontinae contains eight genera and 26 species.
Species in this family:
    Apalachicola Dusky Salamander (Desmognathus apalachicolae)
    Atlantic Coast Slimy Salamander (Plethodon chlorobryonis)
    Black-bellied Salamander (Desmognathus quadramaculatus)
    Blue Ridge Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea wilderae)
    Cave Salamander (Eurycea lucifuga)
    Chamberlain's Dwarf Salamander (Eurycea chamberlaini)
    Chattahoochee Slimy Salamander (Plethodon chattahoochee)
    Dwarf Black-bellied Salamander (Desmognathus folkertsi)
    Dwarf Salamander (Eurycea quadridigitata)
    Four-toed Salamander (Hemidactylium scutatum)
    Georgia Blind Salamander (Haideotriton wallacei)
    Green Salamander (Aneides aeneus)
    Long-tailed Salamander (Eurycea longicauda)
    Many-lined Salamander (Stereochilus marginatus)
    Mud Salamander (Pseudotriton montanus)
    Northern Slimy Salamander (Plethodon glutinosus)
    Ocmulgee Slimy Salamander (Plethodon ocmulgee )
    Ocoee Dusky Salamander (Desmognathus ocoee)
    Pigeon Mountain Salamander (Plethodon petraeus )
    Pigmy Salamander (Desmognathus wrighti)
    Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber)
    Red-legged Salamander (Plethodon shermani)
    Savannah Slimy Salamander (Plethodon savannah )
    Seal Salamander (Desmognathus monticola)
    Seepage Salamander (Desmognathus aeneus)
    Shovel-nosed Salamander (Desmognathus marmoratus)
    South Carolina Slimy Salamander (Plethodon variolatus )
    Southeastern Slimy Salamander (Plethodon grobmani)
    Southern Appalachian Salamander (Plethodon oconaluftee )
    Southern Appalachian Salamander (Plethodon teyahalee)
    Southern Dusky Salamander (Desmognathus auriculatus)
    Southern Gray-cheeked Salamander (Plethodon metcalfi)
    Southern Redback Salamander (Plethodon serratus )
    Southern Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea cirrigera)
    Southern Zigzag Salamander (Plethodon ventralis)
    Spotted Dusky Salamander (Desmognathus conanti)
    Spring Salamander (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus)
    Tennessee Cave Salamander (Gyrinophilus palleucus)
    Three-lined Salamander (Eurycea guttolineata)
    Webster's Salamander (Plethodon websteri)

Family Proteidae

Members of this family, which include Waterdogs and Mudpuppies, are large aquatic salamanders that retain their gills as adults and have four well-developed legs. Both the largest species (486 mm, or 19 in) and the smallest species (189 mm, or 7.4 in) in North America are found in Georgia.
Species in this family:
    Alabama Waterdog (Necturus cf. beyeri)
    Dwarf Waterdog (Necturus punctatus)
    Mudpuppy or Waterdog (Necturus maculosus)

Family Salamandridae

This family of newts is most diverse in Europe and Asia, with only two species being found in the eastern United States. Both of these occur in Georgia. Newts are unique among amphibians because they have three distinct phases in their life cycle: an aquatic larval stage, an immature terrestrial eft stage, and an aquatic adult stage.
Species in this family:
    Eastern Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens)
    Striped Newt (Notophthalmus perstriatus)

Family Sirenidae

This family includes large aquatic salamanders found only in the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plains and associated lowlands in the southern and eastern United States. They have external gills, small front legs but no back legs, and a large body size, reaching up to 965 mm (38 in) in total length. Two genera and three species occur in Georgia.
Species in this family:
    Dwarf Siren (Pseudobranchus striatus)
    Greater Siren (Siren lacertina)
    Lesser Siren (Siren intermedia)