Spotted salamanders can be found in swamps and deciduous bottomland forests. (Dave Huth/Flickr)
These grey, black or bluish salamanders can reach nine inches in length and have two rows of bright yellow or orange spots lining their backs. They spend most of their lives sheltered under leaf litter, logs and rocks.
Adults range from 6 to 9 inches in length
Females grow larger than males
Stout bodies and rounded snout
Large, strong legs with four to five toes
Two rows of yellow or orange spots along back contrast with dark grey, black or blue base color
Abundant in swamps and deciduous bottomland forests
Spend most of their time hidden under leaf litter, logs and rocks
Found in eastern North America
Range extends from Nova Scotia to southern Georgia and eastern Texas
In the Chesapeake Bay watershed, spotted salamanders are absent from the Delmarva Peninsula
Larvae are aggressive predators that will eat any small animal they can catch, including tadpoles, insects, other salamander larvae and even members of their own species if food supplies are scarce
Adults use sticky tongues to catch invertebrates found on the forest floor, including earthworms, snails, slugs, millipedes, centipedes, insects and smaller salamander species
Predators can wipe out 90 percent of all spotted salamander larvae before they hatch
Newts and crayfish feed on eggs
Aquatic insects, fish, wading birds, other salamander species and snakes feed on larvae
Skunks, raccoons, turtles and snakes feed on adults
Communicate by smell, sight and touch. Rarely vocalize unless under attack
Reproduction and Life Cycle:
Breeding takes place at the end of winter, after the ground thaws. Adults migrate to freshwater breeding pools in response to the first spring rains, with males arriving first
There are more males in each breeding pool than females. Males compete for mates by rubbing, bumping and nosing into each other
Males produce droplets of sperm that females take in to fertilize eggs. Males can fertilize several females, and females can take in sperm from several males
Females produce 100 to 300 eggs per year, laying egg masses under water and attaching them to submerged objects
Eggs hatch in four to seven weeks. Larvae are a dull olive-green and are born with gills
Larvae transform into juveniles in two to four months, losing their gills and moving to land. Juveniles mature into breeding adults in two to three years
More than 90 percent of offspring die before they leave their pond, due to predation, disease and ponds drying up
Adults can live for 20 to 30 years
Spotted salamanders return to the same breeding pool year after year.
Their bright spots act as a warning sign to predators that the spotted salamander produces toxic secretions behind its head and tail.
It is believed that algae and salamanders have a symbiotic relationship. Salamander’s egg sacks provide a safe place for algae to grow; in return, the algae produces oxygen for embryonic development.