Guest Author - Sylvie Leochko
The proper way to refer to the Tiger salamander is by calling it the Eastern Tiger salamander to avoid confusing it with close related species. It is one of the Mole salamander species.
The Tiger salamander gets its name from the feline mammal that you can see first hand at the zoo. Its back is usually covered with stripes or blotches, although some populations may have none. These markings can vary in color as they can be either: grey, green, brown, yellow or black. The main color of this salamander's body can be green or grey. The eyes have thick eyelids. This species of salamander has a short snout, a thick neck, sturdy legs and a long tail.
Although this salamander can reach up to 35 cm (14 in) in length, the average size can vary between 15.2 and 20.3 cm (6 and 8 in). It usually weighs 126 g (4.4 oz) when reaching adulthood. The Tiger salamander is terrestrial and its large size makes it the largest land-dwelling salamander on the planet.
The natural habitat of this species covers a wide range as it lives in Southern Canada, most of the United States and Eastern Mexico. It can also survive in a wide variety of places as it can easily adapt to several climates, including the North America interior, which is arid.
The Eastern Tiger salamander prefers to live near slow-moving streams, ponds and lakes. Its home is a burrow located 2 feet under the ground. As larvae, they live only in water and breathe through the use of external gills. The larvae are recognizable by their caudal fin located behind the head. Depending on the climate, this species of salamander may metamorphose as itself at the larvae stage while others will do it when reaching adulthood. In cases of a bad climate, some larvae will never go through metamorphosis. The legs usually grow early. This salamander lives on both land and in water. It is a great swimmer.
An interesting fact is that the Eastern Tiger salamander is known to have only 50% chances of mating more than once in its lifetime. This salamander is very loyal to its birthing place; In fact, it is often killed while crossing the road to get there. When it is time to mate, a male will nudge the female then will deposit its spermatophore on top of the packet, located at the bottom of the lake. The female will then pick up the packet of fertilized eggs on vegetation.
This nocturnal carnivore has been known to feed on worms, small insects, frogs, baby mice and even other salamanders.
Although some local populations are not threatened, others are listed as endangered. Among the places concerned about the survival of this amphibian are the states of: Delaware, New York, New Jersey and Maryland.
It is protected in Arizona, and the following states are concerned about this salamander: North Carolina and South Carolina. In Canada, the Eastern Tiger salamander mostly disappeared in the Great Lakes region, and it is endangered in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley.
Among the threats affecting their survival are: the destruction of wetlands, pollution and the acidity level in their birthing pools. They are often used as fishing baits, as specimens for research or sold as pets.
The life-span of the Eastern Tiger salamander varies between 10 and 16 years.
Let's protect this amazing amphibian by protecting its natural habitat!
Here are some resources linked to the Eastern Tiger salamander!