Pascagoula Dusky Salamander

Desmognathus pascagoula


Currently the newest species to Mississippi, the Pascagoula Dusky Salamander was formally described by Pyron et al. in 2022. Formerly a member of the southern dusky species group, Desmognathus cf. auriculatus (Means et al., 2017; Beamer and Lamb, 2020; Pyron et al., 2022). Desmognathus pascagoula is a medium-bodied dusky salamander found in coastal swamps of Mississippi and Alabama. In both Mississippi and Alabama their range is small. Currently, only six total populations are known, with three in MS, one within Jackson, Green, and Perry counties. Length is around 33-56 mm in adulthood (Pyron et al., 2022). This species is often mistaken for the more-common Desmognathus conanti C. D. pascagoula is found in muddier, swampier microhabitats in areas where it coexists with D. conanti C, which prefers seepages and streams. Pascagoula Dusky Salamanders have dark, less-pattern bellies and porthole spots are distinctly rowed along the sides compared to Spotted Dusky Salamanders.

An adult Pascagoula Dusky Salamander found in a muddy floodplain swamp in southeast Mississippi

Identifying Traits

  • Bright orange or yellowish postocular mark (also called aural or “ear” mark)
  • Less bold and more irregular lateral spots, often referred to as “portholes” (see D. valentinei for this character as well)
  • Slightly smaller in size, with a more distinct dorsal pattern than D. valentinei
  • Larva apparently identical to D. valentinei


Muddy floodplains, cypress swamps, and seepages, in and around the mucky organic sediments present (Pyron et al., 2022). Coastal plains wetland drainages associated with the Pascagoula, Escawtapa, and Mobile watersheds.


Generally utilizes natural structures like logs for cover when above surface. Quick to move into muddy, semi-liquid muck in habitats to escape capture and take refuge during less-than-ideal environmental conditions (such as warmer summer months). Most visibly active and found in the winter. Little is yet known about their reproduction or juvenile behavior.


Various small invertebrates, details not known, although likely similar to D. auriculatus and D. valentinei

Adult from Jackson Co. (MS), © Bryce Wade
Topdown view of an adult, © Bryce Wade
A smaller D. pascagoula with less bright postocular mark but with distinct portholes, Jackson Co. (MS)