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Appearance: The Flatwoods Salamander is one of the more slender members of the mole salamander family, whose members are generally quite stocky. This species' ground color is black or very dark brown, and a network of silvery-blue or white reticulations covers the salamander over its entire length. A second morph substitutes the net-like pattern with a heavy frosting of white pigment over a dark background. The belly is dark with scattered light markings, sometimes giving a salt-and-pepper appearance to the venter.
Habits and Habitat: The Flatwoods Salamander is strict in its habitat requirements, living in longleaf pine flatwoods with scattered ponds, which it uses as breeding sites. Although all mole salamanders are fossorial and secretive, this species may be the most difficult to locate. Generally, adults are seen only while in breeding ponds, or occasionally while traveling to or from these ponds. Larvae are more easily found in appropriate habitat, and can be distinguished from other species by a unique pattern of striping on the head and body.
Reproduction/Egg Description: Adults travel to breeding sites at night during winter rains associated with cold fronts. They generally spend very little time in the pond itself, but may remain in the pond basin for about one month. Eggs are usually laid on dry land among sphagnum or aquatic vegetation. This placement is timed so that the eggs are inundated and submerged by rains shortly after deposition. Eggs are laid singly or in small groups in vegetation, up to a total of about 200 eggs per female.
Distribution and Abundance: Of both restricted range and habitat requirement, this is a rare and declining species. Its preferred habitat, mesic pine flatwoods, is subject to heavy management for timber production, resulting in significant habitat alteration and loss. Historically, scattered populations occurred in restricted habitats in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Alabama. However, this species has not been found in Alabama since the early 1970s.
SE ARMI Index Sites: Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.