Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

Caudata     Eurycea lucifuga -- Cave Salamander

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Purple shade indicates vouchered specimens. Light blue (cyan) shade indicates photographic records. Yellow shade indicates verified sighting. Slanted hatch indicates pre-1980 records only

NOTE: Not all specimens upon which these maps are based have been verified.

Key Characters: Bright orange or reddish orange body; large eyes; black spots on sides of tail scattered rather than arranged into vertical bars.

Similar Species: Longtail salamander.

Description: A very long (up to 18 cm TL) salamander with a wide head and scattered black spots or blotches forming no pattern anywhere on body. Belly unspotted and pale yellowish. Mature male has a mental hedonic gland at the tip of the lower jaw and swollen cirri at the ends of nasolabial grooves. Larva slender, with low tail fin and long gill rami, darkly pigmented on anterior half of throat, and with a broad pale stripe down back. Recently transformed juvenile has shorter tail and is more yellow, closely resembling longtails; check differences in throat and tail pigment.

Habitat: Twilight zone of limestone caves and limestone crevices offer optimal habitat. Also found deeper within caves, and under rocks, logs, and plant debris in woodlands near caves, and around spring-fed swamps.

Natural History: Nocturnal juveniles and adults are found on damp rock walls and ledges, sometimes in large numbers. Diet includes slugs, worms, and a wide variety of insects and other arthropods. Large (5 mm diameter) pale eggs are attached to rocks in cave and underground spring pools in autumn and winter. Most hatchlings are washed out into springs and streams where they grow to transformation.

Status: Locally abundant throughout limestone regions of the Shawnee Hills and Lower Mississippi Border Divisions.


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