Eastern Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum tigrinum)

Description: Michigan's largest land living salamander is a robust animal with a broad, rounded snout and small eyes. The background color is black, brown, or olive, with scattered yellow or brownish blotches, spots, and streaks over the head, back, and tail. The larger aquatic larvae are usually greenish or grayish, speckled with black, with prominent feathery gills behind the head. The larvae resemble small Mudpuppies, but have five (instead of four) toes on each hind foot. Adults are 7 to 13 inches (17.8 to 33 cm) long.

Eastern Tiger Salamander
Photo © Jim Harding

Habitat/Habits: Tiger Salamanders inhabit woodlands, meadows, marshes, and suburban areas, spending most of their time in burrows underground. Found in Michigan's western and southern Lower Peninsula, and in Alger County in the Upper Peninsula. They eat insects, worms, slugs, snails, and smaller salamanders.

Breeding: Breeding habits are similar to those described for the Blue spotted Salamander (see "Salamander Reproduction" above). Tiger Salamanders breed in a wide variety of ponds and wetlands, including stock and ornamental ponds and even shallow lake edges. Their large larvae often eat smaller amphibian larvae.

Conservation: Tiger Salamanders are less tied to woodland habitats than their smaller relatives, and can sometimes survive in deforested farm and suburban areas. They are sensitive to the contamination of breeding ponds by farm and lawn chemicals, and soon disappear from polluted habitats.