Page 115 - A Field Guide to Fairfax County's Plants and Wildlife
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tted Salamander

(Ambystoma maculatum)


Adults are mostly bluish-black with
two rows of yellow or orange spots
down the spine. The bright spots warn
predators that these salamanders
have poison glands in their skin. These
large salamanders grow as long as 18
centimeters. Adults are migratory in spring as they search for vernal pools
in which they lay their eggs. Spotted Salamanders breed in the pools where
they were born, and use the same pool year after year for their entire lives.
After breeding, they return to underground burrows that they dig in soft, moist
soil and spend most of their time there, except when hunting. They hibernate
in their burrows over the winter.

Distribution and Habitat

Occur statewide in Virginia except For such a tiny creature they live
for the far southeastern part of surprisingly long (up to 20 years).
the Coastal Plain province. Adults

prefer moist woodlands near vernal Salamanders have 10 times more
pools, rivers or streams. They are DNA in each cell than humans do.
sometimes called Mole Salamanders

because they spend most of their

time in their underground burrows,

but are also found under rocks, rotting logs or in leaf litter.

Role in Food Web

Larvae feed on zooplankton, aquatic
insects, isopods and other small aquatic
invertebrates. Adults prey on a variety
of small creatures including earthworms,
mollusks, spiders, insects and even
other salamanders. Eggs and larvae are
eaten by fish, turtles, aquatic insects,
birds, frogs and crayfish. Adults are
preyed on by skunks, Raccoons, turtles,
Eastern Chipmunks, Gray Squirrels,
Virginia Opossums and snakes.

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