Spotted Salamander

Ambystoma maculatum
Spotted Salamander

NPS Photo

Family: Ambystomatidae

Ambystoma maculatum

Spotted Salamander

Size: 11.2 to 24.8 cm long (4 ¼" to 9 ¾")

General Description: Back black, blue-black, dark gray or dark brown in color with 2 irregular rows of round, yellow to orange spots from head to tip of tail. Belly slate gray in color. Stout body. Usually 11-13 costal grooves. Unspotted, albino and partial albino specimens have been found but are rare. Hatchlings are typically 1 to 2 cm long, olive green or grayish on their dorsum and white or light colored on their bellies and lack conspicuous markings.

Similar Species: Tiger Salamander, A. tigrinum, has an olive-yellow colored belly and spots that are irregular and often extend far down the sides.

Reproduction: Breeds March to April in northern part of range, January to February in Great Smokies and December to February in southern part of range.

Habitat: Uses hardwood forest areas near water source; hillsides around pools, flooded depressions, etc. Vernal ponds near deciduous forests provide optimal habitat.

Behavior: Spends much of its time underground. May make migration to woodland ponds to breed in warm spring rains or on foggy nights with moderate temperatures. Sometimes found under rocks, logs or boards during wet weather. Incubation time for eggs is typically 4 - 7 weeks. Larvae are suspected of being very aggressive in their feeding behaviors and competition with other larvae. Most larvae metamorphose within 2 - 4 weeks although some may overwinter and transform the following spring. Within a few weeks most recent metamorphs will leave the pond they developed in and disperse into nearby forests. Adults feed on a variety of small forest invertebrate animals and insects. May produce noxious skin secretions to repulse predators. Defensive posturing includes arching the body, tucking the head down to butt predators, biting, and lashing with the tail if attacked from the back.

Last updated: April 14, 2015

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