Total length up to 144 mm for males, up to 151 mm for females. Slightly elongated head, with two large kidney-shaped paratoid glands. The body has 11-13 costal grooves on either side. The tail is square in cross-section. One double row of poison glands runs down the center of the back. One single row of poison glands runs along either side of the body onto the tail. Usually black or brown-black, but the subspecies Salamandra atra aurorae has a bright coloration on the head, back, and dorsal side of the extremities. This coloration can consist of continuous patches or be spotted or blotched. It can vary in color from whitish or yellow to greenish or gray. Males have a slightly more pronounced cloaca than females.