Frosted Flatwoods Salamander, Ambystoma cingulatum

The frosted flatwoods salamander (Ambystoma cingulatum) is a species of mole salamander that can be found in southeastern coastal areas of the United States. Its range includes northern areas of Florida and southern areas of Georgia and South Carolina. It prefers to reside in pine savannas and wet pine flatwoods. This species is small, reaching an average body length between 3.5 and 5.3 inches and has a small head and body with short legs and a long, smooth tail. It is typically brown to blackish purple with silver or gray spots, bands, or markings that resemble nets.

Adult frosted flatwoods salamanders spend most of their time in underground burrows, especially in those of the crayfish and small invertebrates that they feed upon. Between the months of September and December, adults migrate to wetland areas during rains that occur from cold fronts. Breeding occurs in shallow pools or ponds, after which females will lay eggs in the entranceways of crayfish burrows in in wet vegetation. When rain begins to fill the shallow areas where eggs are laid, they will hatch, resulting in larvae that remain in the pools for about three months. Males reach sexual maturity at one to two years of age, while females reach maturity at two to three years of age.

The frosted flatwoods salamander is thought to have been an abundant species with a much larger range before the European settlement. Its range once held abundant longleaf pine forests, but these were replaced with other pine species and human settlements, reducing and fragmenting the habitat and population numbers of the species. The frosted flatwoods salamander has been listed as Federally Threatened since 1999, and appears on the IUCN Red list with a conservation status of “Vulnerbale.”

Image Caption: Frosted flatwoods salamander. Credit: Wikipedia