Mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus)

Description: A large permanently aquatic salamander with flattened tail and reddish gills behind its head. Body color is brown or gray brown with darker, scattered blotches. Adults are 8 to 19 inches (20 to 48 cm) long.

Photo © Jim Harding

Habitat/Habits: Found state wide in inland lakes, Great Lakes bays and marshes, rivers, and reservoirs. Shallow waters are preferred in spring, but occur at depths of up to 100 feet (30 m) in winter and summer. Mudpuppies eat crayfish, insect larvae, worms, snails, small fish, and smaller amphibians and their larvae.

Breeding: Females often guard their 18 to 100 eggs, which are laid under flat rocks, logs, or other submerged object. Larvae mature in 4 to 6 years.

Conservation: Mudpuppies have declined in many Michigan lakes and streams. They are sensitive to chemical pollutants, and are unfortunately often destroyed by people who catch them while fishing. Mudpuppies are generally harmless to human interests.