Red-back salamander, Plethodon cinereus, guarding eggs

A female red-backed salamander (Plethodon cinereus) found under a rock guarding a clutch of eggs in Allegheny County, NY. Red-back salamanders, like other salamanders in the genus Plethodon have direct-development: they do not have a larval stage, and their eggs hatch directly into small, terrestrial salamanders. Parental care in red-backed salamanders appears to serve several purposes. Females can deter predation of their eggs by other salamanders. Females will also consume dead eggs, which prevents the spread of infections to living eggs.

All text and photographs Michael F. Benard
For information on using this photograph, contact me via email at:
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Some more pages on herps and natural history:
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