Salamanders

Salamanders, while uncommonly seen in the park, may be found in the coniferous forests on the rims of the Grand Canyon. Only two species, the Utah tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum utahensis) and the rarer Arizona tiger salamander (Ambystoma mavortium nebulosum), occur in the park. Both are ambystomatids (mole salamanders) meaning they spend the majority of their lives underground in burrows, usually come to the surface to only breed and occasionally after late summer monsoons. They breed in the still or sluggish water of ponds, small temporary rain pools, and cattle tanks in mid-winter to late spring. The best time to see salamanders in the park is during the breeding season when they will sometime surface at night to migrate to breeding areas. The salamander eats a wide variety of surface and subterranean invertebrates but adults can also feed on larger prey much as tadpoles, lizards, small snakes, and mice.

 
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Arizona tiger salamander (Ambystoma mavortium nebulosum)

Identification:

  • Terrestrial adults of the Ambystoma genus can grow as long as 13.6 inches in total length. The tiger salamander is large and stocky with small beady eyes and a rounded snout.
  • Both species have varying combinations of dorsal light and dark spots, giving them the name tiger salamander.
  • Larvae will have three gills on each side of their head and early in development they will lack legs.

 
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Arizona tiger salamander (Ambystoma mavortium nebulosum)

Quick Facts about Salamanders:

  • Larvae undergo a metamorphosis as they age that includes four adult forms: a terrestrial gilled adult, an aquatic gilled adult, called brachiates or neotene, and a cannibalistic form of each!
  • Non-native fish are predators of salamanders and threaten their continued existence.

Last updated: July 22, 2015

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PO Box 129
Grand Canyon, AZ 86023

Phone:

(928) 638-7888

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