The red-cheeked salamander (Plethodon jordani) is a medium-sized blue-black terrestrial salamander found only in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, eastern United States (3). A number of salamanders in this region have extremely similar markings, but the red-cheeked salamander can be identified by its bright cheek patches, which are usually red, but occasionally orange or yellow, and are brighter on younger individuals (4).
The underparts of the red-cheeked salamander are a dull bluish-grey or flesh colour, which contrast with the upperparts and the deep brown head. The underside of the tail is darker than the belly, and the legs and feet are light greyish-brown. The juvenile red-cheeked salamander has pale underparts and red spots on the upperparts (2).
The red-cheeked salamander is a relatively robust, rounded salamander with a nearly circular tail that tapers to a slender tip. The tail usually measurers about half of the body length. The limbs are stout and larger than in other Plethodon species, while the eyes are large and protrude from the wide head, which has a pointed snout (2).
The male red-cheeked salamander is smaller than the female, and may also be identified by a slightly more pointed lower jaw, and by conspicuous saucer-shaped glands under the chin that develop during the breeding season (2) (5). Individual red-cheeked salamanders tend to be larger at lower elevations (2).
- Average length: 11.2 cm (2)