Jefferson Salamander
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Online Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Connecticut

Jefferson Salamander - Ambystoma jeffersonianum


This is a moderately sized (5.8 inches, 14.9 cm; see Klemens 1993) salamander that is usually gray or silvery gray, or sometimes brown. Some individuals have some light blue speckling or foxing (Klemens 1993). It is typically more slender than many other Ambystoma, with a wide head. This species is known to hybridize with other Ambystoma and produce offspring with multiple sets of chromosomes. Recognizing pure A. jeffersonianum is often difficult and frequently requires genetic testing for certainty. Much work on this issue has been done by former Yale Peabody Museum herpetologist Thomas Uzzell (Uzzell 1963, 1964; MacGregor and Uzzell 1964) and by Peabody Curatorial Affiliate James D. Lazell (1971).



This species breeds in vernal pools, frequently in ledge areas (Klemens 1993), typically in March through April. Eggs hatch in 30 to 45 days (Bishop 1941) and metamorphosis is usually complete in late summer.



Larvae have large gills and are variable in color. The caudal fin is marbled.



In Connecticut typically found in undisturbed deciduous forest with rocky slopes. Elsewhere in its range it may be more tolerant of disturbance. The author has found this species in woodland pockets surrounded on all sides by agriculture in Ohio, though the status of those populations is unknown.



Feeds on a variety of invertebrates. Larvae feed on aquatic insects, worms and other invertebrates.



Southern Indiana through Ohio and Pennsylvania and into New York and the western edge of New England. In Connecticut it is known from only a few counties. Many of the known populations could actually be hybrid populations and not pure A. jeffersonianum.


The species is listed as one of special concern in Connecticut.



Bishop, S.C. 1941. The Salamanders of New York. Bulletin of the New York State Museum 324:1–365.

Conant, R. and J.T. Collins. 1991. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern/Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 450 pp.

Klemens, MW. 1993. Amphibians and Reptiles of Connecticut and Adjacent Regions. Hartford, CT: State Geological and Natural History Survey of Connecticut Bulletin 112. 318 pp.

Lazell, J.D. 1971. Taxonomic recognition of triploid Ambystoma salamanders. Herpetological Review 3(3):53.

MacGregor, H.C. and T.M. Uzzell. 1964. Gynogenesis in salamanders related to Ambystoma jeffersonianum. Science 143(3610):1043–1045.

Uzzell, T.M. 1963. Natural triploidy in salamanders related to Ambystoma jeffersonianum. Science 139(3550):113–115.
——1964. Relations of the diploid and triploid species of the Ambystoma jeffersonianum complex (Amphibia: Caudata). Copeia 1964(2):257–300.



Text by Gregory J. Watkins-Colwell.
Photograph (top) © Gregory J. Watkins-Colwell. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Photograph (bottom) © Twan Leenders. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Animals featured in photographs on this page are from Ohio.