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Mole Salamanders: Ambystomatidae - Tiger Salamander (ambystoma Tigrinum): Species Account

Animal Life ResourceAmphibiansMole Salamanders: Ambystomatidae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Tiger Salamander (ambystoma Tigrinum): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, MOLE SALAMANDERS AND PEOPLE


Physical characteristics: Tiger salamanders are about 14 inches (35 centimeters) long from the tip of the snout to the tip of the tail, making them the largest land-dwelling salamanders. Tiger salamanders are large, strong salamanders. Adults have many color patterns depending on where they live. The most common pattern is the one that gives them their name: black with bright yellow stripes, spots, or bars. Some tiger salamanders have blurry gold blotches or yellow flecks on a black background. Others are solid olive green, brown, or black. In the central part of the United States and in the Rocky Mountains, some tiger salamanders do not go through metamorphosis.

Geographic range: Tiger salamanders have the widest geographic range of any other salamander in North America. The range extends A Barred tiger salamander is eating an earthworm. (Photograph by Ken Highfill. Photo Researchers, Inc.) from southern Canada south roughly to the border between Mexico and the United States.

Habitat: Tiger salamanders live mainly in grasslands in prairie and open, dry woodland, from sea level to a height of more than 11,000 feet (3,350 meters).

Diet: Fearsome predators, tiger salamanders eat just about any animal. As larvae, they eat prey ranging from microscopic plants and animals drifting in the water to tadpoles and even one another. As adults on land, tiger salamanders eat all kinds of invertebrate and small vertebrate prey, including animals almost as large as they are. Invertebrates (in-VER-teh-brehts) are animals without backbones, and vertebrates are animals with backbones.

Behavior and reproduction: Adult tiger salamanders spend almost all of their lives in underground rodent burrows. They come out and travel to breeding ponds during spring rains and sometimes can be found on the surface at night during heavy rains. Tiger salamander larvae are often the top predators in the vernal pools and ponds where they live. To reproduce, male salamanders deposit sperm sacs, and female salamanders take them up into their bodies, where sperm and egg unite. The female then lays the eggs. After hatching, some of the larvae go through metamorphosis, and some do not.

Tiger salamanders and people: In many parts of the United States, tiger salamander larvae are sold as fish bait. Throughout their range tiger salamanders cannot live in the same bodies of water as predatory fish. When people stock these waters with bass, catfish, and other species, tiger salamanders are at risk.

Conservation status: Tiger salamanders are not considered threatened or endangered. ∎



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Web sites:

"Ambystomatidae (Mole Salamanders)." U. S. Forest Service. http://www.fs.fed.us/r4/amphibians/family_ambystomatidae.htm (accessed on April 22, 2005).

Erelli, Mark. "Mole Salamanders." The Vernal Pool. http://www.vernalpool.org/inf_mol.htm (accessed on April 22, 2005).

Heying, H. "Ambystomatidae." Animal Diversity Web. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Ambystomatidae.html (accessed on April 22, 2005).

"Tiger Salamander." BioKIDS. http://www.biokids.umich.edu/critters/information/Ambystoma_tigrinum.html (accessed on April 22, 2005).

"Tiger Salamander: Ambystoma tigrinum." Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center. http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/narcam/idguide/atigrin.htm (accessed on April 22, 2005).

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