Spotted Salamander

The spotted salamander is a type of mole salamander that can be found often in different parts of the United States. It is an amphibian that is immediately recognizable due to the colorful spots present on its skin. Their innate nature makes it possible for them to live across a huge area in the USA. They are also preferred by many as pets. So read on to find out more about the spotted salamander.

Spotted Salamander

Spotted Salamander

 

Spotted Salamander Description

Body: These salamanders have cylindrical bodies with flattened undersides. Their bodies start immediately after the head without the presence of a neck. The body ends with a tail.

Skin: The skin is smooth, moist, and glossy without the presence of any scales.

Spotted Salamander

Spotted Salamander

Head: Spotted salamanders have triangular-shaped heads and a wide snout. Their stout bodies are highlighted by two eyes located on both sides of the heads. The jaw border is lined with sharp, tiny teeth. External ears are absent and only signs of the vestigial middle ear can be observed.

Limb: They have four limbs with 5 toes on hind-limbs and 4 toes on the forelimbs. The limbs do not have any claws.

Size: The spotted salamanders are about 15 cm to 25 cm long.

Weight: Salamanders may weigh anywhere from 120 gm to 200 gm.

Color: The body of the spotted salamander is primarily black. However, in some cases, they can be dark green, dark grey, bluish-black or dark brown. Yellowish-orange spots are present in two uneven rows that run from upper parts of the head close to the eyes and go straight up to the end of the tail. Near its head, there are orange spots and the rest of the body is smeared with yellow spots. The underside of these spotted salamanders has a pink and slate gray coloration.

Anatomy: These are cold-blooded creatures whose body temperature varies with the ambient temperature. The larvae have gills which they lose in about 2 to 4 months’ time.

Spotted Salamander Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Craniata: craniates
Phylum: Chordata
Order: Caudata
Class: Amphibia
Superclass: Gnathostomata
Subclass: Lissamphibia
Family: Ambystomatidae
Genus: Ambystoma
Species/Scientific Name: Ambystoma maculatum

Spotted Salamander Distribution and Range

Spotted Salamander Distribution and Range

Spotted Salamander Distribution and Range

Spotted salamanders are usually found in eastern regions of the United States right along the Atlantic coast. They are also common throughout southeastern states apart from Florida. They are also common in Texas, Georgia, and the west as well as in eastern Canada, Nova Scotia and the Lake Superior region.

Spotted Salamander Habitat

Spotted Salamander Habitat

Spotted Salamander Habitat

These salamanders live in mixed forests and hardwood areas close to the stagnant water sources such as vernal pools, ponds, and swamps.

Spotted Salamander Diet

Spotted salamander larvae mostly consume zooplankton, insects, various aquatic invertebrates and small crustaceans.

As they grow in size, they include isopods and amphipods in their diet. Adults eat worms, crickets, spiders, insects, millipedes, earthworms, slugs, and centipedes. They also consume other types of invertebrates that are available in the forest at night.

Spotted Salamander Behavior

Here are the common behavioral traits of spotted salamanders.

Spotted Salamander Behaviour

Spotted Salamander Behaviour

    • Spotted salamanders are nocturnal in nature, preferring to come out during the night to gather food.
    • They are comfortable in both land and water.
    • The female salamander lays its eggs in the water during the breeding season.
Spotted Salamander Behaviour

Spotted Salamander Behaviour

    • They love to live in hardwood forest regions with vernal pools.
    • These salamanders are fossorial in nature which means that they spend a large part of their time living underground.
Spotted Salamander Behaviour

Spotted Salamander Behaviour

  • The spotted salamanders hibernate underground during the winter season.
  • Like other types of salamanders, the spotted ones can self amputate parts of their bodies in order to escape from their predators.

Spotted Salamander Predators

Predators of these salamanders include raccoons, skunks, muskrats, foxes, snakes, and turtles. They also experience significant threats from large birds, fishes, and other mammals and reptiles.

Spotted Salamander Adaptations

These are the common adaptations of the spotted salamander.

Spotted Salamander Adaptations

Spotted Salamander Adaptations

  • The spotted salamander has got excellent regenerative abilities. In case some predator attacks the salamander and cut off a part of the tail, a leg or even portions of the brain or other organs, they can easily grow back the tail or the leg.
  • If a salamander is disturbed, it secretes a poisonous milky liquid which comes out from large poison glands that are located on the neck and back.
  • The eggs of the spotted salamander may include green algae in some cases. The algae consume the carbon dioxide produced by salamander embryos and present oxygen for the embryos.
  • Spotted salamanders generate a distinct polymorphism on the layers of outer jelly components in their egg masses. While one morph is characterized by a clear appearance and has a water-soluble protein, the other morph has a white coloration and consists of a type of crystalline hydrophobic protein. Such polymorphism is advantageous in ponds having varying levels of dissolved nutrients. It also greatly reduces mortality caused by the wood frog larvae.

Spotted Salamander Mating Season

The mating season for spotted salamanders commences from around March or April in the northern territories and in December in the southern areas.

Spotted Salamander Mating Season

Spotted Salamander Mating Season

The length of this breeding season may vary a lot with specific locations and can be anywhere between 3 days and more than 2 months.

Spotted Salamander Reproduction

For most of the year, these salamanders reside in burrows within deciduous forests or under leaves.

Spotted Salamander Reproduction

Spotted Salamander Reproduction

During the rainy season when temperature levels rise up and there is a high amount of moisture in the air, the salamanders start migrating to the annual breeding ponds. Hundreds and thousands of salamanders visit their vernal ponds for mating. An elaborate courtship is carried out where the male gets close to a female and starts a nudging ritual. The male encircles the female repeatedly and deposits spermatophores right on the substrate so that the female may pick it up with cloaca. Often males deposit the spermatophores over other males’ spermatophores in case they experience an encounter during courtship. Once fertilization takes place after about 2 to 3 days, a female is going to deposit egg masses on some submerged vegetation. The embryonic period usually lasts for about 4 to 7 weeks. The larvae metamorphose within a period of 2 to 4 months.

Spotted Salamander Life Cycle

Spotted salamanders go through multiple life stages, such as eggs, the larvae, the juvenile, and the adult. The females lay eggs underwater. These egg masses have a round shape and appear as jelly-like clumps having a length of 6.4 cm to 10.2 cm. the adults only spend about one or two days in water for reproductive purposes.

Spotted Salamander Life Cycle

Spotted Salamander Life Cycle

The eggs take about one or two months to hatch. Once the larvae are hatched, they use their external gills to breathe in an aquatic environment. The larvae have a greenish yellow or light brown coloration. They are also helped by a broad tail which makes it easier for them to swim. The legs are very weak at the initial stages. Larvae consume food in the water and in time they turn into juveniles. The juveniles and the adults live on the land. They have got strong legs and lungs.

Spotted Salamander Life Span

On average, the adult spotted salamanders live up to 20 years. However, in some cases, they have also been recorded to live as long as 32 years.

Spotted Salamander As Pets

Here is the common care information you need to know if you want to have spotted salamanders as pets.

Spotted Salamander Housing

You can keep a pair of healthy adult salamanders or multiple juvenile salamanders in a vivarium of 10 or 20-gallon capacity. If you are looking to add more numbers of spotted salamanders, then you need to choose a larger vivarium.

Spotted Salamander Temperature and lighting

Spotted salamanders are mainly subterranean and therefore they need very little light. No full-spectrum lighting is required at all. They are also fine without any light apart from the ambient room lighting. In case you are thinking of setting up a light just over their enclosure, make sure that you use fluorescent lights that do not produce any heat. The spotted salamanders love cool environments and remain most active in temperatures ranging between 50° and 70° Fahrenheit.

Spotted Salamander Feeding

Captive spotted salamanders can have voracious appetites and you can offer them invertebrates like earthworms and crickets as well as small mice.


Active spotted salamanders should be fed about 3 times in a week.

Spotted Salamander Conservation Status

The spotted salamander species is listed as Least Concern by the IUCN. Nevertheless, it is important to note that the development of various wooded areas makes it difficult for these spotted salamanders to have access to proper breeding grounds which in turn can threaten the growth of their populations. The spotted salamanders are frequently killed by cars and vehicles that run over them.

Spotted Salamander Interesting Facts

Here are some fun facts about spotted salamanders.

  • Eggs of the spotted salamander share a unique symbiotic relationship with Oophila amblystomatis, a type of green algae.
  • Stressed out male spotted salamanders typically drop more numbers of spermatophores, a trait that contradicts common knowledge about animal reproduction that anxiety is supposed to reduce active breeding habits.
  • The females can lay egg masses that may contain as many as 250 eggs.
  • They absorb water through their cloaca and skin and not consume it in the same way as other animals.

Spotted Salamander Pictures

Have a look at these spotted salamander pictures.

Spotted Salamander1

Spotted Salamander1

Spotted Salamander2

Spotted Salamander2

Spotted Salamander3

Spotted Salamander3

 

References 

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