Tiger Salamander

The tiger salamander is an amphibian. 

It is usually about 15 – 20 cm long, often brown, black or grey, and has pale brown/yellow markings on it which are sometimes more like stripes than spots. 

It spends a lot of time underground in burrows and has got itself the nickname of ‘mole salamander’ because of the time spent underground.  Salamanders can also be found under rocks and logs.

The tiger salamander comes from Northern America and  can be found from Alaska to the Mexican plateau.   

They can be found in areas of forests and marshes, as well as grasslands. 

They eat worms, snails, slugs and insects in their diet.  

The tiger salamanders are of very little concern conservation-wise - they are not thought to be running in to any problems at the moment that would affect their ability to thrive long term in the wild, which is good news compared to that of other amphibians.

  • Salamanders are nocturnal in that they love to come out an night and are more active at this time.  This is when they will search for food.  
  • During the day, if on the surface at all, the salamander will be keeping out of the sun and hiding under a rock or a log.
  • During the winter, the salamander will usually be ok, even at very low temperatures.  The metabolism slows down to become very slow and so does the heart and the liver produces glucose which it sends to the blood.  The blood stays oxygenated.  Everything slows right down until the Spring time when body functions return to normal.  

They head to breeding ponds in late winter, early spring.  After mating, the female salamander will lay around 100 eggs.  The females will leave these eggs in vernal pools, (also known as vernal pools, or ephermal pools).  These are pools of water that  are seasonal and provide breeding grounds and are an essential habitat for amphibians.  They are like a temporary wetland for the tiger salamander providing all the essential flora and fauna.  The tiger salamander will travel to a vernal pool to lay eggs.  The larvae still stay In the pool until about two and half months to five months old when they are considered adult tiger salamanders.  And the cycle continues…

In very early spring once the ground has thawed slightly, the salamander will head off again to find a vernal pool in which to mate and breed.  Mating is a different affair with the salamander.  The male will spread his produced spermaphores on to rocks and logs that are in the water and then the female salamander  will come along and fertilize their eggs on these spermaphores.  The eggs are laid usually at night and are secured in the ponds by grass stems and leaves.  The eggs take around 28 days to hatch.  

How long does the tiger salamander live?

A tiger salamander can live in captivity for up to 25 years.  Otherwise then can live to around 15 years.  

Once adults, the salamander will spend most of its life terrestially - it will live in burrows that are about two feet under the ground.  I think this is to make sure that it is not affected too much by the outside temperature extremes, and can keep itself at an even temperature without extremes.  

Although they spend a lot of time on the ground, or even in the ground, they are brilliant swimmers, and a salamander will travel a long way to find its way back to its birthplace - they are very loyal to their birthplace.  

Physically, the salamander has a thick neck and very sturdy legs and a nice long tail.  They have large, lidded eyes.

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