Salamanders of the family Plethodontidae are a unique species as they are part of a group of amphibians that lack lungs. They survive because Plethodontid salamanders, commonly known as lungless salamanders, breathe entirely through their skin and the tissue lining in their mouths. Their skin and mouths must keep moist in order to respire, so they are only found in damp areas.
Another distinctive feature of lungless salamanders is the presence of the nasolabial groove - a slit extending from the naris (nasal opening) to the upper lip. The groove is lined with glands and enhances the salamander's chemoreception (ability to detect chemicals in area). Outside of these interesting features, these salamanders are like any other family of salamanders with four limbs and 4-5 digits on the forelimbs and hindlimbs. For many salamander species eggs are laid on land, and the young hatch already possessing an adult body form.
There are several lungless salamanders found in Indiana, mostly in the southern region in a variety of habitats including forests, streams and caves. They are likely found beneath logs or underneath rocks, and will only venture out of their hiding places in humid weather.
Common lungless salamanders in southern Indiana include:
Less common lungless salamanders in Indiana are:
Unfortunately for them, it is man who is responsible for polluting and destroying their wet habitats. Filling in ponds, pesticide-use, and rerouting water for our own water needs has caused declines in many salamander populations. The Nature Conservancy, as well as other local and federal agencies, is committed to conserving remaining habitats for species, such as these salamanders, who need clean water to survive.February 20, 2013