Georgia Wildlife Web

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

Species Description

Marbled Salamander

Ambystoma opacum


Species Image

Classification

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

Description

A dark gray to black body and silver stripes or thick cross-bands on the back, with a black belly. 9 - 13 cm (3.5 - 5 in) This salamander has a short, stocky body. Its tail is stubby compared to tails of other salamanders. It has 11 or 12 costal grooves.

Life Cycle

The Marbled Salamander breeds in the late fall and early winter. Fertilization is internal. The female lays 50 to 200 eggs in a sheltered depression in bottomlands. The female guards the eggs, wrapping herself around them until the depression is flooded. The eggs hatch a few days after being soaked, and the larvae develop over several months ending in late spring. This salamander spends the majority of its time underground in burrows. By digging through leaf litter near streams, one may occasionally find one. It is nocturnal, hunting primarily at night under the leaf litter. The Marbled Salamander is an opportunistic feeder, a carnivore that eats earthworms, arthropods, and other small invertebrates. It can live in a wide variety of habitats, from pine and hardwood forests to swamps. It requires wetlands that flood in the winter and early spring for breeding.

Range

Marbled Salamander Region Map The Marbled Salamander is found throughout Georgia with the exception of the extreme southeastern part of the state. It is common in the Coastal Plain and Piedmont regions, but is rare in the mountains.

Conservation Status

This salamander is common throughout much of its range. Like many amphibians, it requires wetlands to breed. Protection of forest wetlands and floodplains is necessary to maintain healthy populations.

Similar Species

No other salamander in Georgia has the bold, contrasting silver-and-black coloration. Other salamanders with silver, gray, and black coloration have fine lines or spots of silver on a dark background. Markings on the Eastern Tiger Salamander may be equally bold, but are yellowish or cream colored.