Mole Salamander, Ambystoma talpoideum
The Mole salamander (Ambystoma talpoideum) is a member of the Ambystomatidae family and may also be referred to as the tadpole salamander. Commonly found in eastern and central United States, the Mole Salamander ranges from Florida to Texas, Illinois to Kentucky and Virginia. The Mole salamander inhabits damp areas that are generally close to a water source. Commonly found under logs or moist leaves the Mole salamander dwells in forested and sandy pine habitats.
The Mole salamander will reach lengths up to 3.9 inches. Coloration includes gray or dark brown skin with a lighter gray belly side. Spots or smears of darker colors or bluish, silver flecks are not uncommon speckling the body. A stout body and large, flattened head are both typical characteristics of the species.
The Mole salamander is a secretive species. A nocturnal creature, the salamander spends its daytime burrowed. The Mole salamander ventures out for feeding. Hunting is opportunistic and the species feeds on anything smaller than itself.
Breeding season for the Mole salamander takes place between October and March. Eggs are typically laid in the spring. An interesting characteristic of the Mole salamander is that, it is a facultatively paedomorphic species. After hatching, it may continue to live in the water keeping large feathery gills into adulthood or it may retain its larval state. Meaning, some Mole salamanders will go through a metamorphosis into land creatures and others remain aquatic.
Image Caption: Mole salamander (Ambystoma talpoideum). Credit: USGS/Wikipedia (public domain)