Like many salamanders Desmognathus ochrophaeus mates by way of internal fertilization. The female of the species will release a scent from one of her "courtship glands" on a leaf, branch, bark, etc. that will coax a male to come and release a spermatophore on the ground. Desmognathus ochrophaeus are non-vocal and so must use scent cues to mate with each other. One very important sense involved in mating is olfaction. Using scents the female is able to entice the male to release his sperm package onto the ground, which she will then pick up and place directly into her vent. This differs from what we traditionally consider mating, because the male and female Desmognathus ochrophaeus do not physically make contact and induce a direct transfer of sperm to ova. Year after year an individual salamander will breed along the same segments of a stream.
These salamanders are most active at night and on dark, humid days. Adults may congregate in crevices and shale banks during winter.
An interesting behavior attributed to Desmognathus ochrophaeus that is common to many salamanders is the ability to lose their tail when threatened by a predator. On Desmognathus ochrophaeus and many other salamanders there is a predetermined zone of breakage at the base of the tail where it will break off, leaving the tail behind, but allowing the rest of the salamander to get away. When the tail breaks, segmental muscles pull out, leaving the tail behind. The contraction of sphincter muscles on the blood vessels minimizes bleeding. The broken tail will wiggle, contort, and move around to distract the predator, hopefully giving the salamander enough time to escape. The slamander may be short its tail, but at least he'll live for another day. Luckily for Desmognathus ochrophaeus, the tail eventually regenerates (Cohen 1995).
The description of courtship and mating is inaccurate, because the two sexes do come into physical contact. The description of tail loss stating that "predetermined zone of breakage at the base of the tail where it will break off" is true for some salamanders but not Desmognathus- the tail can break off at any position along its length, not just at its base.