Spotted Salamander


 spottedSalamander.jpg

 

Common Name
Spotted Salamander
Category
Amphibians
ScientificName
Ambystoma masculatum
Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Amphibia
Order
Caudata
Family
Ambystomatidae
Genus
Ambystoma
Species
maculatum
SubSpecies

 

Description
Stout lizard-shaped body; smooth, glossy skin; black, brown, to grayish in color above, gray belly; irregular row of large orange or yellow spots along each side of the back beginning at eye and extending to tail; usually 12 grooves along each side of rib area, called costal grooves; short legs with four toes on front and five toes on back feet; toes without claws; long tail
Size
6 – 8 in. (15.2 – 20.3 cm) long
Ecological Role
The spotted salamander may occupy underground burrows created by other animals, such as moles. Red spotted newts, caddisfly larvae, and leeches eat spotted salamander eggs. Diving beetle larvae, fish, and wading birds, such as herons, eat the larvae. Salamander larvae are predators, eating aquatic invertebrates such as mosquito larvae. A symbiotic relationship may exist between the algae that embeds the egg mass, providing oxygen to the crowded embryos, and the developing embryos that give off carbon dioxide usable to the algae.
Fun Facts
Salamanders are amphibians and thus have an aquatic stage and a terrestrial stage. They are cold-blooded, meaning that their body temperature is the same as the surrounding air temperature. Many salamanders can move even when the air temperature is near freezing. They survive best in ponds with no fish because fish prey on larvae. They do not have claws, ears, or scales. They are moist and slimy and need to live in moist conditions so their skin does not dry out. They are active at night and cloudy, rainy days. Spotted salamanders spend most of their life underground in leaf litter or burrows. A milky toxin is released from glands on the back and tail of the adults for defense against predators. The spotted salamander is most likely confused with the Eastern Tiger Salamander that has similar spots but an olive-yellow belly.
Food
Larvae eat aquatic invertebrates, such as mosquito larvae; adults eat terrestrial invertebrates such as insects, earthworms, spiders, millipedes, centipedes
Cover
 
Nest
 
Breeding
Early spring while water is still cold; mass movement to breeding pond or stagnant pool usually occurs on rainy evening; female and male circle each other on the bottom of the pond; males rubs chin on the females back; courtship may last several days; eggs laid 2 – 7 days after courtship
Eggs
Eggs stick together as single oval-shaped mass containing 100 – 200 black eggs; clear or white jelly-like coating covers eggs; egg mass may turn green with algae as it ages; single egg mass may be 2.5 in. (6.35 cm) in diameter with several masses attached to small, underwater stick or vegetation
Habitat
Mixed hardwood forests near water; stay in moist, dark places
Kentucky Distribution
Statewide in appropriate habitat
Life Cycle
Eggs stick together as single oval-shaped mass containing 100 – 200 black eggs; clear or white jelly-like coating covers eggs; egg mass may turn green with algae as it ages; single egg mass may be 2.5 in. (6.35 cm) in diameter with several masses attached to small, underwater stick or vegetation
Life Span
10 – 20 years
Life Stage
 
Reproduction
 
Seasonal Changes
Migrate to breeding ponds in spring, often returning to same pond year after year; overwinter underground as a larva, juvenile, or adult
Spawning
 
Status
Common
Uses
 
Voice
None
Young
 
What We Can Do
Maintain wooded wetlands to protect both aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Populations are becoming isolated because of deforestation and loss of vernal pool habitat. Many are killed on roads as they migrate during the breeding season. Do not put herbicides, pesticides, and toxic wastes in water; salamanders absorb substances through their sensitive skin.
Host
 
Diagnosis and Control
 
Interesting Facts
 
Contributed By
 
Website
http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/herps/amphibid/index.htm