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    Yellowstone

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Blotched tiger salamander

A pair of blotched tiger salamanders in the dirt.
Blotched tiger salamander
NPS/J. Arnold
 
Scientific name: Ambystoma tigrinum melanostictum

Identification

  • The only salamander in Yellowstone.
  • Adults range up to about 9 inches, including the tail.
  • Head is broad, with a wide mouth.
  • Color ranges from light olive or brown to nearly black, often with yellow blotches or streaks on back and sides; belly is dull lemon yellow with irregular black spots.
  • Larvae, which are aquatic, have a uniform color and large feathery gills behind the head; they can reach sizes comparable to adults but are considerably heavier.
Habitat

  • Breeds in ponds and fishless lakes.
  • Widespread in Yellowstone in a great variety of habitats, with sizable populations in Lamar Valley.
Behavior

  • Adult salamanders come out from hibernation in late April to June, depending on elevation and migrate to breeding ponds where they lay their eggs.
  • Mass migrations of salamanders crossing roads are sometimes encountered, particularly during or after rain.
  • After migration, salamanders return to their moist homes under rocks and logs and in burrows.
  • Feed on adult insects, insect nymphs and larvae, small aquatic invertebrates, frogs, tadpoles, and even small vertebrates.
  • Preyed upon by a wide variety of animals, including mammals, fish, snakes, and birds such as sandhill cranes and great blue herons.

Did You Know?

Lake Trout Illustration

Lake trout are an invasive species of fish that is decimating the native cutthroat trout population in Yellowstone Lake.