Georgia Wildlife Web

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Species Description

Mudpuppy or Waterdog

Necturus maculosus


Classification

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

Description

Gray to brownish to almost black. The back usually has some blue-black markings, either a few spots, many spots, or spots merged to form stripes. The belly is speckled gray and has a few large dark spots. The Mudpuppy is the largest of the Waterdogs, reaching lengths of 20 - 33 cm (8 - 13 in).

Life Cycle

Maturity is reached in four to six years. Males court females in the fall. Fertilization is internal. In the spring, small clutches of 30 to more than 100 eggs are laid in the water, strongly attached the underside of rocks. The female's presence under the rocks gives some protection to the eggs. Hatching occurs in five to nine weeks. The Mudpuppy is totally aquatic. It is usually nocturnal, although in murky or weedy water it may be active during the day. It is an opportunistic feeder and will eat whatever it can catch. It primarily eats crayfish, aquatic insects, worms, and small fish. The Mudpuppy lives in a variety of habitats, from streams to weedy ponds. It needs water that has an abundance of shelter such as logs, rocks, or weeds. It may be found in waters that are deeper than those in which other Waterdogs live.

Range

Mudpuppy or Waterdog Region Map The Mudpuppy is found in extreme north Georgia, in larger streams which are part of the Tennessee River drainage.

Conservation Status

The Mudpuppy is common throughout its range. It is tolerant of a variety of aquatic habitats. Habitat destruction from siltation and pollution is its main threat.

Similar Species

The Hellbender is the only fully aquatic salamander whose range overlaps that of the Mudpuppy in Georgia. The adult Hellbender has no external gills and has folds of skin extending down the sides of its body.