Georgia Wildlife Web

Home Glossary Classification Conservation Status Regions of Georgia Fishes of Georgia Make a Donation

Species Description

Spotted Salamander

Ambystoma maculatum


Species Image

Classification

Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Caudata
Family: Ambystomatidae

Description

Shades of black, gray or brown on its back, gray on its belly. Down each side of the spine, there are two rows of spots which are very regular in size and shape. There may be as many as 50 spots, with both orange and yellow spots on the same individual. 15 - 24 cm (6 - 9.5 in) This is a large, solidly built salamander with 12 costal grooves.

Life Cycle

The Spotted Salamander breeds during the winter and early spring when adults migrate from their burrows to pools during winter rains. Courtship precedes internal fertilization. Females lay large clumps of up to 200 eggs in shallow pools. Eggs hatch in four to eight weeks. Two to four months later, larvae transform into adults that can live for two decades. The Spotted Salamander is a burrowing species, and is rarely seen except during breeding aggregations. It is an opportunistic feeder, a carnivore that is active at night. It prefers hardwood forests and swamps where it burrows near water. It requires temporary pools that it can use for breeding, but avoids deeper water where fish can prey on its eggs or larvae.

Range

Spotted Salamander Region Map This salamander is widely distributed in Georgia.

Conservation Status

This species is common in parts of its range. It does not appear to be under any grave threat at present. Because the Spotted Salamander is a long-lived species, it may take several years for poor breeding success to become evident. It is susceptible to habitat disturbances that can cause local populations to decline quickly, such as winter-burning cultivation practices. These disturbances can destroy a breeding population. Habitat protection is important to maintaining viable populations.

Similar Species

The range of the Eastern Tiger Salamander overlaps with that of the Spotted Salamander on the Coastal Plain of Georgia. The belly of the Eastern Tiger Salamander is olive-green to yellow in color, not gray as on the Spotted Salamander. The Eastern Tiger Salamander generally has irregularly shaped spots on its back.