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Species Description

Two-toed Amphiuma

Amphiuma means


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Classification

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

Description

The back is dark gray, dark brown, or black. The belly is a few shades lighter. This is the largest salamander in Georgia, reaching a maximum length of 114 cm (45 in), with a range from 46 -114 cm (18 - 45 in).

Life Cycle

Courtship occurs in January. Up to 200 eggs are laid in June or July. The female broods the eggs in shallow water. She wraps her body around the eggs in a shallow depression hidden under debris, keeping them moist and protecting them from predators. Hatching occurs five months later. This is an aquatic salamander, but it can be found on land during rainstorms or when conditions are very damp. It requires a muddy bottom with lots of debris where it can burrow. Ditches, floodplain fields, blackwater swamps and streams are ideal habitat. This salamander eats crayfish, worms, small fish, aquatic insects, and other amphibians. The Two-toed Amphuma is a favorite food of the Mud Snake. The Two-toed Amphiuma forages at night, making vision fairly useless. It has a lateral line system similar in many respects to that found in some fish. The pits that are visible around its head are either neuromasts sensitive to mechanical stimuli such as waves, or ampullary organs sensitive to electrical stimuli produced by prey or predators. Many other amphibians possess one or both types of sensory receptors at least during the larval stage.

Range

Two-toed Amphiuma Region Map The Two-toed Amphiuma is found throughout the Coastal Plain of Georgia in slightly acidic water that is shallow, slow, or still.

Conservation Status

The Two-toed Amphiuma is common in Georgia. Preservation of habitat, reducing pollution, and reducing use of pesticides will ensure the continued survival of this species.

Similar Species

This large salamander can easily be mistaken for an eel, and is in fact sometimes called the Congo Eel, Conger Eel, Lamper Eel, or Ditch Eel. (The same names are often applied to some Sirens.) Eels are fish with fins and heads compressed from side to side. The Amphiuma head is slightly flattened from the back to the front. Amphiumas have four tiny legs and do not have external gills; this distinguishes them from the other large salamanders. They do not have scales, an observation which easily separates them from snakes.