Jefferson Salamander, Ambystoma jeffersonianum

The Jefferson salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum) is a species of mole salamander that can be found in northeastern areas of the United States, southwestern areas of Quebec, and central and southern areas of Ontario. This species prefers to reside in deciduous forests. It was named after Jefferson College, which is located in Pennsylvania. This species reaches an average body length between 4.3 inches and 7 inches and can be black, gray, or brown in color with lighter coloring on its front side. Some individuals may have small blue or silver spots on the sides of their body.

Adult Jefferson salamanders reside under logs or stones, but can also be seen in underbrush and leaf litter, where they remain for most of the year. Breeding occurs after rainfall, when the salamanders leave their burrows to return to breeding sites. These sites, which are often close to burrows, can occur in temporary and permanent ponds and pools. This species is one of the first amphibians to emerge at springtime and it can be seen moving across the snow to get to half melted water sources. Larvae are carnivorous, feeding on aquatic invertebrates, while adults feed on land dwelling invertebrates.

The breeding season for the Jefferson salamander is not known, but eggs are laid at the edge of ponds on vegetation or other natural supports. Eggs hatch within fifteen days and the resulting larvae will remain in the water for four months. Although the age at which sexual maturity is reached is not known, it is thought that females can begin breeding at 22 months of age. The Jefferson salamander has no known threats, although its habitat is slightly fragmented, and appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Least Concern.”

Image Caption: Jefferson Salamander. Credit: Wikipedia