November 6, 2023
- as seen by -Micah Siegel
Among the longleaf pine forests of South Carolina, I came across a place where the habitat seems to change. The ground beneath my feet is no longer pine needles and dry grass, but soggy soil and lush, dense patches of moss. In just a handful of these hidden bogs lives a secretive little amphibian – the Chamberlain’s dwarf salamander (Eurycea chamberlaini).
Previously thought to be a subspecies of the more common dwarf salamander (Eurycea quadridigittata), there is still much to learn about this diminutive critter. Its known range includes just North and South Carolina, and its populations seem limited to small microhabitats within the pine savannas of the coastal plain. The average adult size is just under one inch in length, which undoubtedly makes finding them no easy task.
I encountered this adult individual in South Carolina, crawling over the sphagnum moss it calls home.