Four-toed salamander

Hemidactylium scutatum

The four-toed salamander is a lungless salamander native to eastern North America. It is a species of the monotypic genus ''Hemidactylium''.
Four-toed Salamander - Hemidactylium scutatum This is the smallest salamander found in Connecticut. They are reddish brown with white bellies that have black specks. Unlike other lungless salamanders, this species has four toes on its hind feet, rather than five.

This poor creature had somehow lost its tail. It has the ability to detach its tail at the distinct basal constriction if grabbed by a potential predator. After detaching, the tail wiggles to distract the predator, while the salamander escapes. The tail will eventually grow back.

Habitat: Under a log in a mixed swamp
https://www.jungledragon.com/image/77187/four-toed_salamander_-_hemidactylium_scutatum.html
https://www.jungledragon.com/image/77189/four-toed_salamander_-_hemidactylium_scutatum.html
https://www.jungledragon.com/image/77188/four-toed_salamander_-_hemidactylium_scutatum.html Four-toed salamander,Geotagged,Hemidactylium scutatum,Spring,United States

Appearance

The four-toed salamander can be recognized by its white underbelly sprinkled with black dots. Its back varies from orange-brownish to red-brownish; its flanks are grayish. The body and the limbs are elongated. The snout is short, and the eyes are prominent. The tail color is usually brighter than the back, and you can observe a constriction at the body/tail junction. The posterior limbs have four toes , a good identification criterion but hard to use in the field. This species rarely exceeds 10 cm in length. The sexes are alike except for the shape of the head. Males have elongated and almost square snouts, whereas the females' snouts are short and round. The juveniles show a tail shorter than the body.

The four-toed salamander can be easily mistaken for the redback salamander in the wild. The redback’s underbelly is more of a "salt & pepper" color. There is no constriction at the tail and posterior limbs show five digits.
Four-toed Salamander - Hemidactylium scutatum This is the smallest salamander found in Connecticut. They are reddish brown with white bellies that have black specks. Unlike other lungless salamanders, this species has four toes on its hind feet, rather than five.

This poor creature had somehow lost its tail. It has the ability to detach its tail at the distinct basal constriction if grabbed by a potential predator. After detaching, the tail wiggles to distract the predator, while the salamander escapes. The tail will eventually grow back.

Habitat: Under a log in a mixed swamp
https://www.jungledragon.com/image/77187/four-toed_salamander_-_hemidactylium_scutatum.html
https://www.jungledragon.com/image/77190/four-toed_salamander_-_hemidactylium_scutatum.html
https://www.jungledragon.com/image/77189/four-toed_salamander_-_hemidactylium_scutatum.html Four-toed salamander,Geotagged,Hemidactylium scutatum,Spring,United States,salamander

Status

Although it is rare, or at least rarely seen, COSEWIC does not consider ''H. scutatum'' to be at risk in Canada. It is also listed as a species of least concern by the IUCN due to the wide distribution and assumed large population. But it is at risk in some provinces such as in Quebec . Its status in the United States ranges from Threatened , to Endangered , to Special Concern .
Four-toed Salamander - Hemidactylium scutatum This is the smallest salamander found in Connecticut. They are reddish brown with white bellies that have black specks. Unlike other lungless salamanders, this species has four toes on its hind feet, rather than five.

This poor creature had somehow lost its tail. It has the ability to detach its tail at the distinct basal constriction if grabbed by a potential predator. After detaching, the tail wiggles to distract the predator, while the salamander escapes. The tail will eventually grow back.

Habitat: Under a log in a mixed swamp
https://www.jungledragon.com/image/77187/four-toed_salamander_-_hemidactylium_scutatum.html
https://www.jungledragon.com/image/77190/four-toed_salamander_-_hemidactylium_scutatum.html
https://www.jungledragon.com/image/77188/four-toed_salamander_-_hemidactylium_scutatum.html Four-toed salamander,Geotagged,Hemidactylium scutatum,Spring,United States

Behavior

There are three methods of nesting that have been documented in the females of ''H. scutatum'', which can fall into one of two categories, solitary or communal/joint nesting. Solitary nesters lay and brood only their eggs. Communal nesting is normally one female brooding the eggs of two or more, up to 14, females of the same species. In this method the females either lay their eggs and leave the nest, or lay their eggs and stay to brood their eggs as well as those of the deserting females. About 1/3 of the nests of a population are joint nests, while between 50% and 70% of females lay their eggs in joint nests each year.

Oophagy has also been reported in ''H.scutatum'', where one female would eat several eggs of another female before laying her eggs in a communal nest.
Four-toed Salamander Imagine my surprise when I went to pick up a plastic garbage bag while hiking in a relatively remote forest and found this gorgeous, white-bellied salamander overwintering underneath it. I thought this salamander deserved a better spot to overwinter, so I gently placed it under a rotting log that I found less than a foot away from the plastic bag.

 Four-toed salamanders have a porcelain white belly with small, black spots scattered about the venter. The dorsal surface is brown-yellow. They have unique four-toed feet. Also, at the base of their tail, they have an obvious constriction where it can detach and then be regenerated. This detachment is voluntarily, which is another unique feature of this salamander since most salamanders must be grasped in order for their tails to come off. Additionally, when detached, their tails will continue to wiggle, possibly distracting predators. This salamander was 5cm long, and over 50% of that length was it's tail. 

 The four-toed salamander is in a state of decline throughout its range due to its specialized habitat requirements in addition to habitat destruction and degradation. Research has shown that they are very important contributors to nutrient cycling in forest ecosystems, and therefore, they play an important role in the health and balance of forest systems. Finding this beautiful creature under a plastic bag in a remote forest is a sad, yet significant reminder of the extent of the human footprint in nature.  Fall,Four-toed Salamander,Four-toed salamander,Geotagged,Hemidactylium scutatum,United States,salamander

Habitat

This species favored habitats are sphagnum bogs, grassy areas surrounding beaver ponds and deciduous or mixed forests rich with mosses. The four-toed salamander will use the sphagnum bogs during reproduction, but uses the forest habitat during the summer. It overwinters in terrestrial habitat, using old burrows or cavities created by rotting roots, below the freezing depth. It will frequently overwinter in groups, sometimes with other amphibians such as the Redback Salamander.

In Canada, the four-toed salamander can be found in southern Ontario and Quebec, in Nova Scotia and a single population was found in New Brunswick in 1983. In the United States, it can be found from Maine to Wisconsin and as far as Alabama in the south.

The home range of the species is not known. It was believed that the different elements of its habitat had to be within 100 m of each other, but recent observations might suggest this to be an underestimation.
Four-toed Salamander Imagine my surprise when I went to pick up a plastic garbage bag while hiking in a relatively remote forest and found this gorgeous, white-bellied salamander overwintering underneath it. I thought this salamander deserved a better spot to overwinter, so I gently placed it under a rotting log that I found less than a foot away from the plastic bag.

 Four-toed salamanders have a porcelain white belly with small, black spots scattered about the venter. The dorsal surface is brown-yellow. They have unique four-toed feet. Also, at the base of their tail, they have an obvious constriction where it can detach and then be regenerated. This detachment is voluntarily, which is another unique feature of this salamander since most salamanders must be grasped in order for their tails to come off. Additionally, when detached, their tails will continue to wiggle, possibly distracting predators. This salamander was 5cm long, and over 50% of that length was it's tail. 

 The four-toed salamander is in a state of decline throughout its range due to its specialized habitat requirements in addition to habitat destruction and degradation. Research has shown that they are very important contributors to nutrient cycling in forest ecosystems, and therefore, they play an important role in the health and balance of forest systems. Finding this beautiful creature under a plastic bag in a remote forest is a sad, yet significant reminder of the extent of the human footprint in nature.  Fall,Four-toed Salamander,Four-toed salamander,Geotagged,Hemidactylium scutatum,United States,salamander

Reproduction

Mating occurs in terrestrial areas throughout the fall months. In early spring the females nest on land, along the banks of small ponds. After the 4–6 week embryonic period, the larvae hatch and make their way to the adjacent pond. Four-toed Salamanders undergo a relatively short aquatic larval period, when compared to other species of the same family, ranging between 3 and 6 weeks.
Four-toed Salamander - Hemidactylium scutatum This is the smallest salamander found in Connecticut. They are reddish brown with white bellies that have black specks. Unlike other lungless salamanders, this species has four toes on its hind feet, rather than five.

This poor creature had somehow lost its tail.  It has the ability to detach its tail at the distinct basal constriction if grabbed by a potential predator. After detaching, the tail wiggles to distract the predator, while the salamander escapes. The tail will eventually grow back.

Habitat: Under a log in a mixed swamp
https://www.jungledragon.com/image/77190/four-toed_salamander_-_hemidactylium_scutatum.html
https://www.jungledragon.com/image/77189/four-toed_salamander_-_hemidactylium_scutatum.html
https://www.jungledragon.com/image/77188/four-toed_salamander_-_hemidactylium_scutatum.html Four-toed salamander,Geotagged,Hemidactylium scutatum,Spring,United States,salamander

Food

Four-toed salamanders feed mostly on small invertebrates, such as spider, worms, ticks, springtails , ground beetles and other insects. Larvae love small aquatic crustaceans.
Four-toed Salamander Imagine my surprise when I went to pick up a plastic garbage bag while hiking in a relatively remote forest and found this gorgeous, white-bellied salamander overwintering underneath it. I thought this salamander deserved a better spot to overwinter, so I gently placed it under a rotting log that I found less than a foot away from the plastic bag.

Four-toed salamanders have a porcelain white belly with small, black spots scattered about the venter. The dorsal surface is brown-yellow. They have unique four-toed feet. Also, at the base of their tail, they have an obvious constriction where it can detach and then be regenerated. This detachment is voluntarily, which is another unique feature of this salamander since most salamanders must be grasped in order for their tails to come off. Additionally, when detached, their tails will continue to wiggle, possibly distracting predators. This salamander was 5cm long, and over 50% of that length was it's tail. 

The four-toed salamander is in a state of decline throughout its range due to its specialized habitat requirements in addition to habitat destruction and degradation. Research has shown that they are very important contributors to nutrient cycling in forest ecosystems, and therefore, they play an important role in the health and balance of forest systems. Finding this beautiful creature under a plastic bag in a remote forest is a sad, yet significant reminder of the extent of the human footprint in nature.  Fall,Four-toed Salamander,Four-toed salamander,Geotagged,Hemidactylium scutatum,United States,salamander

Defense

The four-toed salamander has three main forms of self-defense against predators. The first is that it purposely sheds off its tail to distract the enemy. When the tail comes of, it is still wiggling around. The enemy gets distracted giving the salamander time to get away. The second form of defense is playing dead. When threatened, this salamander will have a short burst of violent trashes and then stop dead in its tracks. It will stay frozen like this until it feels the threat is gone . The third and final form of defense is it will curl up and put its tail on its back offering it in exchange for its life.There are three methods of nesting that have been documented in the females of ''H. scutatum'', which can fall into one of two categories, solitary or communal/joint nesting. Solitary nesters lay and brood only their eggs. Communal nesting is normally one female brooding the eggs of two or more, up to 14, females of the same species. In this method the females either lay their eggs and leave the nest, or lay their eggs and stay to brood their eggs as well as those of the deserting females. About 1/3 of the nests of a population are joint nests, while between 50% and 70% of females lay their eggs in joint nests each year.

Oophagy has also been reported in ''H.scutatum'', where one female would eat several eggs of another female before laying her eggs in a communal nest.

References:

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Status: Least concern
EX EW CR EN VU NT LC
Taxonomy
KingdomAnimalia
DivisionChordata
ClassAmphibia
OrderCaudata
FamilyPlethodontidae
GenusHemidactylium
SpeciesH. scutatum