Spotted Salamander
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Spotted Salamander
Spotted Salamander
Spotted Salamander Larva
Spotted salamander larva from Fairfield, Connecticut.

Online Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Connecticut

Spotted Salamander - Ambystoma maculatum

Description

The largest terrestrial salamander in Connecticut, the spotted salamander measures 6 to 9 inches (15.2 to 22.8 cm). Adults are typically black with yellow spots. The belly is gray to a silvery gray. Occasionally, some animals are entirely black with a grayish belly, lacking any spots on the back. In some parts of the animal’s range, the spots, especially those near the head, are orange or red, not yellow.

Reproduction

This species depends on vernal pools to spawn. Adults arrive at the ponds in early spring, often before the last of the ice has thawed. Sperm capsules are deposited by males on submerged leaves. The females collect the sperm capsules and then lay clusters of eggs, each containing about 100 individual eggs. The egg masses typically start clear, but many will become cloudy. In fact, in any vernal pool usually both types of egg masses can be seen. The cloudy coloration may help protect the embryos from ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Additionally, some egg masses will have algae growing within the jelly of the egg mass. This species of algae is found only in the jelly of amphibian egg masses.

 

Juveniles

Larvae are aquatic. Newly metamorphosed individuals closely resemble adults, although the spots may not appear immediately on metamorphosis, or at least not as bright as in adults.

Habitat

Found in woodland habitats with mixed hardwoods and vernal pools. In Connecticut they are frequently found in woodland habitats with large rocks. They spend most of their lives underground, typically only appearing above ground during breeding season.

 

Food

Adults eat a wide variety of invertebrate food and occasionally smaller salamanders. Larvae eat aquatic invertebrates, including mosquito larvae.

 

Range

Southcentral Ontario to Nova Scotia south to Georgia and central Texas (Behler and King 1979). In Connecticut it is known from every county, but not every township (see Klemens 1993).

 

Status

Although not specifically protected in Connecticut, there are possession limits on the species. Given its dependence on specific habitat types and vernal pools, this species is among those that suffer from human development in wetland areas.

 

References

Behler, J.L. and F.W.King. 1979. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. New York: Knopf. 719 pp.

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

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

 

Credits

Text by Gregory J. Watkins-Colwell.
Photographs © Twan Leenders. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Animals featured in photographs on this page are from Connecticut.