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Red Salamander

Virginia State Salamander

Official State Salamander of Virginia

The red salamander (Pseudotriton ruber) is the official state salamander of Virginia. It was designated as the state salamander in 2018, thanks to the efforts of a group of young naturalists known as the Salamander Savers 4-H Club and the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources .

The red salamander is a member of the lungless salamander family, Plethodontidae. This means that it does not have lungs and breathes through its skin. Red salamanders are found in moist, forested habitats throughout Virginia, from the coastal plain to the mountains. They are most active at night and can often be found under logs, rocks, and other debris.

Red salamanders are relatively small salamanders, averaging about 3-4 inches in length. They have a reddish-brown body with dark spots and a lighter underside. Their legs are short and their tail is long and slender.

Red salamanders play an important role in the ecosystem as predators of insects and other invertebrates. They are also a food source for snakes, birds, and other animals.

How the Red Salamander Became Virginia's State Symbol

The idea of designating a state salamander for Virginia began in 2017 with the Salamander Savers 4-H Club. The club is a group of students from Fairfax County who are passionate about salamanders and their conservation.

The Salamander Savers began by researching different salamander species that are native to Virginia. They also surveyed the public to get input on which species should be the state salamander. The red salamander was eventually chosen because of its beautiful coloration, widespread distribution in the state, and its ability to raise awareness about the conservation of salamanders.

Once the Salamander Savers had chosen the red salamander, they began lobbying the Virginia General Assembly to pass a bill designating it as the state salamander. They met with lawmakers, testified at committee hearings, and wrote letters and emails in support of the bill. 

The Salamander Savers' efforts paid off in 2018, when the Virginia General Assembly passed a bill designating the red salamander as the official state salamander. The bill passed 96-1 in the House of Delegates and 39-1 by the Senate. The bill was signed into law by Governor Ralph Northam on March 9, 2018.

The Importance of Salamanders

Salamanders are important members of the ecosystem. They help to control populations of insects and other invertebrates, and they are a food source for other animals, such as snakes, birds, and mammals.

Salamanders are also sensitive to environmental changes, such as habitat loss and water pollution. As a result, they can be used as indicators of the health of the environment.

How to Conserve Salamanders

There are a number of things that you can do to help conserve salamanders:

  • Protect their habitat: Salamanders need moist, forested habitats. You can help to protect their habitat by planting trees and shrubs, leaving dead leaves and logs on the ground, and avoiding the use of pesticides and herbicides.
  • Keep waterways clean: Salamanders are sensitive to water pollution. You can help to keep waterways clean by avoiding the use of herbicides and fertilizers near water, and by picking up trash when you see it.
  • Educate others about salamanders: Many people do not realize how important salamanders are to the environment. You can help to educate others about salamanders by talking to them about these amphibians and by sharing information about salamander conservation.


The red salamander is a beautiful and important member of Virginia's ecosystem. By designating it as the official state salamander, Virginia has shown its commitment to the conservation of these amphibians. We can all do our part to help conserve salamanders by protecting their habitat, keeping waterways clean, and educating others about these amazing creatures.