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Olms and Mudpuppies: Proteidae

Physical Characteristics

Olms and mudpuppies are medium-sized to large salamanders with a long, squared-off snout, small legs, and large, bushy, red gills. Gills are organs for obtaining oxygen from water. Most olms are pale and nearly eyeless. Mudpuppies are dark with large spots and have small eyes. Olms and mudpuppies are large for salamanders, more than 16 inches (40 centimeters) from the tip of the snout to the tip of the tail.

Olms and mudpuppies spend their entire lives in water, never making the move to land the way many amphibians do. Amphibians (am-FIB-ee-uhns) are vertebrates (VER-teh-brehts), or animals with a backbone, that have moist, smooth skin; are cold-blooded, meaning their body temperature is the same as the temperature of their surroundings; and, in most instances, have a two-stage life cycle. Olms and mudpuppies have the same body features as adults that they do as larvae. Larvae (LAR-vee) are animals in an early stage that change body form in a process called metamorphosis (MEH-tuh-MORE-feh-sis) before becoming adults. These features include three pairs of large, bushy, red gills; a short tail that is flat from side to side, like an eel's tail; a tail fin; and small eyes.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceAmphibiansOlms and Mudpuppies: Proteidae - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Olm (proteus Anguinus): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, MUDPUPPIES OLMS AND PEOPLE