Western Tiger Salamander

Two glistening salamanders with dark backs and light green stomaches
The western tiger salamander is the only salamander in Yellowstone.

NPS/Jeff Arnold


Scientific Name

Ambystoma mavortiu


  • The only salamander in Yellowstone.
  • Adults range up to 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.


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


  • 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, 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.
A tan frog with some dark spots on glistening green vegetation

Boreal Chorus Frog

Boreal chorus frogs are common with conspicuous calls.

A frog on a small log with white belly and dark green back reflected in water

Columbia Spotted Frog

To survive the winter, Columbia spotted frogs go into water that does not freeze.

A bumpy, black spotted rests on top of another toad

Western Toad

Western toads were once common throughout Yellowstone.

A green and brown bumpy toad in held in the hollow of two gloved hands

Plains Spadefoot Toad

In 2015, a breeding population of plains spadefoot toads was confirmed in Yellowstone.

A frog with stretched chin in water


Amphibians are valuable indicators of stressors such as disease or climate change.

Last updated: June 9, 2017

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PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168



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