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Species Description

Eastern Tiger Salamander

Ambystoma tigrinum

Species Image


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


Coloration is variable; the back is black to brown, with spots that are irregularly shaped, fairly large, and may blend into bars or remain discrete. The spots extend well down the sides almost to the belly. The belly is olive or yellow and may have dark specks. Commonly 15 - 20 cm (6 - 8 in) This is a large, robust salamander that usually has 12 or 13 costal grooves.

Life Cycle

The Eastern Tiger Salamander breeds during the winter. Females lay eggs in shallow, temporary pools in December through February. Small egg clusters are probably attached to submerged vegetation. Pools with fish are not suitable for breeding. The Eastern Tiger Salamander is the largest terrestrial salamander in eastern North America. There are several subspecies, and those in the west are larger than the Georgia subspecies. This is a nocturnal salamander. It is an opportunistic species, a carnivore that eats earthworms and small invertebrates. Due to its size, it also can eat smaller vertebrates such as other amphibians, reptiles, and mice. It requires sandy soils for burrowing and access to seasonally flooded wetlands for reproduction. It breeds in deeper water than other salamanders in the Coastal Plain.


Eastern Tiger Salamander Region Map The Eastern Tiger Salamander is found in the pine woodlands of the Coastal Plain.

Conservation Status

In the southeastern United States, the Eastern Tiger Salamander is listed as Endangered in Virginia, Threatened in North Carolina, and Of Special Concern in South Carolina. It is uncommon or rare throughout its range. Habitat destruction is the primary threat. Agricultural practices that disrupt the pine woods habitat, such as clear-cutting, burning, or soil disturbance with heavy machinery cause harm to this species.

Similar Species

The ranges of the Spotted Salamander and the Eastern Tiger Salamander overlap in the upper Coastal Plain. The Spotted Salamander has rows of more regularly shaped spots, and it does not grow as large as the Eastern Tiger Salamander. The belly is gray in the Spotted Salamander, but olive to yellow in the Eastern Tiger Salamander.