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.
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.
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.
Species/Scientific Name: Ambystoma maculatum
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.
These salamanders live in mixed forests and hardwood areas close to the stagnant water sources such as vernal pools, ponds, and swamps.
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.
Here are the common behavioral traits of spotted salamanders.
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.
These are the common adaptations of the spotted salamander.
The mating season for spotted salamanders commences from around March or April in the northern territories and in December in the southern areas.
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.
For most of the year, these salamanders reside in burrows within deciduous forests or under leaves.
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 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.
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.
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.
Here is the common care information you need to know if you want to have spotted salamanders as pets.
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 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.
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.
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.
Here are some fun facts about spotted salamanders.
Have a look at these spotted salamander pictures.
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