Marbled Salamander

The Marbled Salamander (Ambystoma opacum), is a common and widespread species of mole salamander found in the eastern part of the United States. They are found from southern new England to northern Florida, and west to Illinois and Texas. Its habitat is damp woodlands, forests, and places where the dirt is soft and wet. Although flooded areas are essential for breeding, they rarely enter the water.

The adult Marbled Salamander can grow to about 4 inches long. It is a stocky, boldly banded salamander. Bands on the female are usually gray, while the male bands are more white.

Adults spend much of their lives under logs, leaf litter, or underground. At night, during the breeding season they will wander about. They also come out more during rainy or snowy weather. Salamanders like the cold. Breeding takes place in the fall between September and December. Females lay clusters of eggs of up to 120 under logs or in clumps of vegetation in low lying areas that are likely to flood during winter rains. They dig a small depression in soft dirt and lay the eggs in it.

Eggs hatch the same fall or winter if rains come, but they may over-winter and hatch the following spring. The embryos hatch soon after the nest is inundated with the rising waters of the seasonal pool. Larvae typically mature in as little as two months in the southern part of their range, but take up to six months to mature in the northern part. Marbled Salamanders, like other members of this genus, are reported to have relatively long life spans, ten years or more.

Adults take terrestrial invertebrates such as worms, insects, centipedes, and mollusks (snails, slugs). Larvae take small aquatic animals (zooplankton), but larger individuals will take eggs and larvae of other amphibians as well.

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