Critter Corner - Tiger
DID YOU KNOW:
Tiger salamanders are the world's largest land-dwelling
salamanders. They can grow to be 8 to 13 inches long and
live up to 25 years. In Asia, the Chinese salamander that
is totally aquatic can grow to 5 feet! Salamanders, like
all amphibians, must have water. They absorb water through
their skin and they must lay their eggs in water.
Both adult and young are predators of a variety of other water
creatures, including insects, crustaceans, worms, snails, fish,
tadpoles, frogs and even other salamanders.
After emerging from hibernation, and after the rains begin and
warm, adult tiger salamanders breed. Female salamanders
can lay up to 1,000 eggs in small clumps. In a few weeks
the salamander larvae emerge from the eggs and stay in water,
breathing through gills and feasting on aquatic creatures.
Between July and early September, the larvae begin changing into
land-dwelling young adults. The gills are absorbed into
the head and the legs become bigger and the tail thinner.
This change in physical features is common in amphibians
(tadpoles are frog larvae).
Throughout much of the United States, tiger salamanders live in
swamps, woodlands and prairies where ponds, streams and marshes
are nearby. Tiger Salamanders live in our area.
seldom see them however, because they are good at hiding, spend
most of the time below ground, and are usually active at night.
To search for an adult tiger salamander, look under logs and
rocks where the soil is moist along a stream edge. Larval
tiger salamanders live in the water.
Camouflage and staying hidden are their best defense.
Because shakes, otters, diving beetles, turtles, birds and fish
all eat salamander eggs and larvae, laying many eggs helps make
sure that some will survive. Sudden freezes and extended
droughts are bad for salamander survival. These creatures
are very sensitive and have no defense against water pollution.
Tiger salamanders have five basic senses; tough, taste,
sight, hearing and smell. They also can detect
ultraviolet and infrared light and the Earth's magnetic
They feel temperature and pain and will respond to
pollutants, like acids, that leak into our waterways.
Salamanders are cold-blooded with porous skin so they must
respond quickly to any changes in their environment to
To learn more about
(Photo credits: Head on
view, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection; Tiger
salamander larva, Brookhaven National Lab, Profile view,
Michigan Department of Natural Resources)