The Spotted salamander, Ambystoma maculatum

The Spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) may also be referred to as the Yellow spotted salamander. It is a Mole salamander and a member of the Ambystomatidae family. The species is commonly found in the eastern United States and parts of Canada. Most of the time, the salamander inhabits lush forests, but they remain close to a water source, typically a slow-moving stream or pond.

The Spotted salamander is considered solid and plump comparatively. Their length ranges anywhere between 5.9 and 9.8 inches. Its overall coloration varies from blue-black to a deep, dark green, grey or brown. Haphazard yellow spots cover the salamander from head to the tip of its tail. The Spotted salamander has a gray or pinkish under belly.

A very secretive, shy species, the Spotted salamander spends most of its time in hiding and burrowing underground. The Spotted salamander hunts at night and remains inactive for a better part of the day. When feeding the Spotted salamander goes out in search of crickets, worms, insects, and spiders.

When venturing out from hiding the Spotted salamander has defense mechanisms to protect against predators. A milky-white poisonous liquid may be secreted from large glands around the neck if threatened.  Interestingly, the species is additionally able to regenerate limbs and even parts of organs. It takes massive amounts of energy, but if wounded the Spotted salamander is able to re-grow all new parts.

Breeding is much like that of other salamander species. Spotted salamander larvae are born aquatic with gills and they grow to their adult stage where they become lung breathing. Female Spotted salamanders lay around 100 eggs at a time. The eggs cling to underwater plants and vegetation and take between one and two months to hatch.

Image Caption: Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum), Cantley, Quebec. Credit: Wikipedia/D. Gordon E. Robertson (CC BY-SA 3.0)