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Tiger Salamander

Scientific Classification

Common Name
tiger salamander, mole salamander
Genus Species
Ambystoma tigrinum

Fast Facts

These are large, dark bodied salamanders with light yellow-gold markings extending down their sides. The gray tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum diaboli), a subspecies, has a dark green to gray body speckled with tiny black dots.
15 to 20 cm (6 to 8 in.), with some specimens reaching a length of 30 cm (12 in.) or more
Average weight is approximately 126 g (4.4 oz.)
Feed on invertebrates and small vertebrates
Hatching occurs after approximately 4 weeks.
Clutch Size:
A female may deposit one or more egg masses, containing 25–50 eggs per mass.
Larval Duration
Typically, tiger salamander larvae feed and grow during the spring and early summer and metamorphose 2-5 months after hatching.
Sexual Maturity
4–5 years
Life Span
12–15 years
Tiger salamanders inhabit a wide range of areas extending from coast to coast across the United States and into Canada, and from central Nebraska to northeastern Mexico. They are distributed throughout Texas except for the eastern quarter.
They can be found near water in forests, and in prairie areas where there is adequate moisture. The tiger salamander spends most of the year underground.
Global: Unknown 
IUCN: Not listed
CITES:  Not listed
USFWS:  Ambystoma tigrinum stebbinsi listed as Endangered

Fun Facts

  1. Salamanders do not have fracture zones in their tails as some lizards do, but are able to regenerate entire limbs. Regenerated parts are usually distinguishable by the lack of characteristic pigmentation. 
  2. Some small species of salamanders are lack lungs. If they have lungs, as the tiger salamander does, they pump air in and out by gular pumping (lowering and raising the floor of the mouth). 
  3. Typically, tiger salamander larvae feed and grow during the spring and early summer and metamorphose 2 to 5 months after hatching. However, some populations never metamorphose. In areas where the environments surrounding permanent ponds are dry and inhospitable, they may retain certain larval characteristics that allow them to live underwater. These salamanders mature in the water and are able to reproduce, though they maintain the body of an immature salamander – a phenomenon called neoteny. Should environmental conditions improve, they may metamorphose into a terrestrial adult.

Ecology and Conservation

These large salamanders are meals for many animals such as snakes, turtles, birds, and fish. They may predate on insects, earthworms, small mammals, and even other amphibians.

Amphibians have porous skin and respond quickly to changes in the environment. The health of their populations can be an indicator of the health of the environment.

Recent surveys have identified about only 90 tiger salamander breeding ponds in New York. Its status at these remaining sites is tenuous because of pesticides and other contaminants, threat of development, and other land use patterns. Pond disturbance, predatory fish introduction, and expanding bullfrog populations threaten annual reproduction. Increased road construction has also divided the habitat, jeopardizing migrating adults.


Beringer and Johnson. 1995. Herpetological Review. 26(2):98.

Duellman and Trueb. Biology of the Amphibians. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1986.

Halliday, Tim R. and Kraig Adler (eds.). The Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. New York: Facts on File, 1987.

Stebins and Cohen. A Natural History of Amphibians. 1995. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.