Description: Spotted Salamanders are large salamander,
ranging from 6-9.5 inches (15-24 cm) in length. Ground color can
be shades of black, gray or brown on its back, gray on
its belly. Down each side of the back, there are two rows of
orange and yellow spots; sometimes as many as 50. Ambystoma
maculatum is considered monotypic (no recognized subspecies)
and has 12 costal grooves.
Range and Habitat: Found throughout eastern North America,
spotted salamanders are common in Piedmont and Mountain regions
of South Carolina and Georgia. They are much less common in the
Coastal Plain and are absent from southeastern Georgia. The spotted
salamander can be found in hardwood forests and swamps where it
burrows near water. For breeding, it requires temporary pools
or wetlands, and avoids deeper water where fish can prey on its
eggs or larvae.
Habitat: The Spotted Salamander is fossorial, active at
night, and is rarely seen except during breeding seasons. They
breed during the winter and early spring when adults migrate from
their burrows to pools during winter rains. They exhibit courtship
breeding patterns and internal fertilization. Females lay large
clumps of up to 200 eggs in shallow pools, often associated with
algae. There is believed to be a symbiotic relationship between
the algae and the salamander, where the algae are provided with
a safe place to live and grow and in turn, algae produce oxygen,
which is needed for embryonic development of the larvae. Eggs
hatch in four to eight weeks, and larvae metamorphose in two to
four months. Adults can live for two decades.
Conservation: This species is common in most parts of
its range and is not protected in our region. However, destruction
of temporary wetlands and forest alteration may threaten this
species in the future.
Gibbons, J.W. and R.D. Semlitsch. 1991. Guide to the reptiles
and amphibians of the Savannah River Site. University of Georgia
Press, Athens, USA. 131 pp.
Blackwell, Eric A., George R. Cline, and Ken R. Marion. Annual
Variation in Populations Estimators for a Southern Population
of Ambystoma maculatum. Herpetologica 60(3). 2004.
Account Author: Amelia Gleaton, University of Georgia
- edited by J.D. Willson