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This site was created by students in the herpetology class at Towson University.  Site last updated: 05/21/07.

Acknowledgements: Herb Harris - Range Maps;  Mark Tegges - Photography; Dan Lapascha & Gigi Forester - TU Herpetology Logo

Spotted Salamander

(Ambystoma maculatum)

Description   

    The spotted salamander is usually between 11.2 and 19.7 cm long, but can grow to be nearly 25 cm long.  This species gets its name from the numerous yellow or orange spots, which are arranged in irregular rows along the dorsal surface; the background of the back may be black, blue-black, or slate.  The belly is slate-grey.  Younger individuals may be dark brown and lack spots.

      

 

Photograph by: Lisa Chicarella

Habitat

      Like most ambystomatid salamanders, the spotted salamander spends the majority of its time in underground burrows or tunnels that have been excavated by small mammals, but they will leave their burrows on rainy nights for foraging and during the breeding season.

         Breeding

      Stimulated by warm rains in the early spring, spotted salamander adults migrate to woodland ponds.  Males, outnumbering the females, compete with each other for mates via nosing each other while swimming and covering other males' spermatophores with their own.  Compact egg masses are covered with a thick milky-white jelly, with approximately 125 eggs per mass.  The incubation period generally ranges from 31 to 54 days.  Newly hatched larvae have feathery gills and no hind limbs, and metamorphosis occurs during August or September.  The characteristic spots appear a week after metamorphosis.

Distribution in Maryland

  

Range map adapted from Harris, 1975.

Links:

http://www.bio.umass.edu/biology/conn.river/molesals.html

http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/narcam/idguide/ambymacu.htm

http://www.herpnet.net/Minnesota-Herpetology/salamanders/SpottedSalamander.html

http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/pictures/Ambystoma_maculatum.html