a tiger salamander on the ground.
Adult tiger salamanders are common in the western United States.

NPS Photo

Tiger Salamanders

Tiger salamanders are large land-dwelling salamanders that live in deep burrows near ponds and are one of the few salamanders that can survive in desert-like climates. They are primarily nocturnal, hunting at night for insects, frogs, worms and sometimes even other salamanders. Tiger salamanders range throughout most of the United States, southern Canada and eastern Mexico.

A juvenile tiger salamander swimming underwater. The salamander has frilly gills on the side of it's head.
Neotenic salamanders are found in pools without fish, like the one at El Morro.

NPS Photo

Neoteny in Salamanders

Some populations of tiger salamanders, especially those in the western United States at higher altitudes (like the ones here at El Morro) are "neotenic." This means that even though the salamanders become sexually mature and can reproduce, they otherwise remain in their larval form and retain their gills (they don't go through a metamorphosis and develop lungs). This generally happens when they find permanent water sources without predatory fish. Neotenic tiger salamanders are usually larger that normal terrestrial adults and can reach 15 inches in length.


Last updated: November 4, 2022

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