A dark, medium to large salamander with yellow or olive blotches over the head, body, and tail. The ground color is black or dark brown. The large spots or blotches vary greatly in size and shape; blotch color ranges from bright yellow to dull olive-brown. The belly is dark gray or black with yellow mottling. Males usually have longer tails than females, and during breeding season they have a swollen cloaca.
Species of Conservation Concern
Ambystomatidae (mole salamanders) in the order Caudata
Length: 7–8¼ inches.
Where To Find
Presumed statewide; more common in the northern half of the state than in the Ozarks.
These salamanders live in a wide variety of habitats including woodlands, swamps, prairies, and old fields (near farm ponds) and may sometimes be found in wells, basements, and root cellars. They spend most of their time in burrows or under logs. These animals need fishless water holes, ponds, and swamps to survive, and you can help them by developing and maintaining these features on your property.
Prey includes any animal small enough for them to swallow. Common foods include earthworms, insects, spiders, slugs, and snails.
Common, though populations are declining overall when compared to historical levels. A Species of Conservation Concern.
Days are spent in burrows or under logs, as these salamanders are active only at night. During autumn rains individuals migrate to fishless ponds where breeding will take place. Courtship and egg-laying occur in the water between February and April. Each female may lay up to 1,000 eggs deposited in small clumps of 18 to 110 eggs. Eggs hatch in a few weeks. The aquatic, gilled larvae develop throughout summer and transform to land-dwelling subadults in late summer.
These nifty amphibians, though seldom seen, reward their viewers with their striking yellow or olive and black patterns. They are part of the amazing wild heritage of Missouri.
Numerous animals prey on tiger salamanders and their eggs and larval forms, including predaceous diving beetles, fish, herons, and loggerhead shrikes. The salamanders themselves prey on a host of invertebrates ranging from snails and slugs to insects and spiders.
About Reptiles and Amphibians in Missouri
Missouri’s herptiles comprise 43 amphibians and 75 reptiles. Amphibians, including salamanders, toads, and frogs, are vertebrate animals that spend at least part of their life cycle in water. They usually have moist skin, lack scales or claws, and are ectothermal (cold-blooded), so they do not produce their own body heat the way birds and mammals do. Reptiles, including turtles, lizards, and snakes, are also vertebrates, and most are ectothermal, but unlike amphibians, reptiles have dry skin with scales, the ones with legs have claws, and they do not have to live part of their lives in water.