Tiger Salamander

Genus: Ambystoma
Species: tigrinum

Tiger salamanders can be difficult to spot because of their secretive nature and ability to hide for long periods of time underground. However, the trick to finding a tiger salamander is to look for their burrows and hiding places. They like to live near marshes and ponds without fish. After heavy rains, tiger salamanders can be seen walking about on the wet ground.

Description:  Tiger Salamanders are approximately 6 to 8 inches long. They have dark gray, brown or black bodies with brownish-yellow markings. In some subspecies, the yellow markings are large spots or stripes, while other subspecies have small yellow irregularly shaped spots. For example, the barred tiger salamander of the lower Great Plains has large, elongated spots. The eastern tiger salamander has small spots.

Be careful when identifying a tiger salamander, because some individuals might not have spots at all!

Wetland loss, specifically vernal pools, is the greatest threat facing tiger salamanders. Vernal pools are temporary, seasonal ponds that fill with freshwater. Tiger salamanders lay eggs in vernal pools, because they are free of fish that normally eat the eggs and larva. As we fill in and destroy wetlands, a serious negative consequence is that tiger salamanders must search longer and farther to find good breeding sites.

Range:  Tiger salamanders live near vernal pools, ponds and slow-moving streams. They can be found along the Atlantic Ocean coast south of New York to Florida. The majority of tiger salamanders live in the center of the country from Arizona and Montana east to Ohio and Kentucky. 

  • Fun Fact
    Tiger salamanders can live to a ripe old age of 14 years or more! It all depends on the individual and whether it can stay out of harms way in the wild.

National Geographic

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