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The Salamanders of Indiana!

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There are more then 400 species of salamanders worldwide, with 22 of which occurring in the state of Indiana, most being located in the southern portions. Most salamanders are nocturnal, or mostly active at night when it is cool opposed to being out on a hot day. Salamanders live in cool moist areas so they don't dry out. Some salamanders, such as the mudpuppy, completely live out their whole lives in the water, and some such as the redback salamander live out their whole life on land. The salamanders skin is so sensitive, it can absorb chemicals directly from the dirt, water, or someone's hands, so it is important to keep your hands clean when handling them. This is true for all amphibians. Sadly, Indiana's salamanders are declining, most likely from habitat pollution and loss. The purpose of this web site is for people to learn about these wonderful creatures, and to be able to identify the ones they encounter.
 
Species List:

Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum)

Photo by Andrew Hoffman

The tiger salamander is one of our largest land species, it is usually black with randomly placed gold to bright yellow spots. It can be aggressive when first captured, but is completely harmless.

Family: Mole Salamanders

Grows up to 13 inches in length

Can live up to 25 years!

Longtail salamander (Eurycea longicauda)

Photo by Andrew Hoffman

The longtail salamander is easy to identify because of its long tail, which is longer than any other species occurring in Indiana. The longtail salamander is bright orange in color with a series of small black spots. Is commonly encountered at night during warm rains.

Family: Lungless Salamanders

Can grow up to 7 inches long.

Feeds on small invertebrates. Usually feeds at night.

Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum)
 
Photo by Andrew Hoffman
 
The spotted salamander is a very desired species, sadly, often exploited in the reptile trade. The spotted salamander defends itself from predators by lowering its head and shaking its tail, it also releases poison from its glands to keep predators away. Is often found when digging in moist areas, and they leave their burrows at night.
 
Family: Mole Salamanders
 
Grows to about 9 inches.
 
Can live over 20 years.

Redback Salamander (Plethdon cinereus)

photo by Andrew Hoffman

The redback salamander lives its whole life on land. Unlike most salamanders, it doesn't lay eggs in water. Breathes completely through its skin, which it must keep moist. The redback salamander doesn't go through any larval stage, it hatches out looking identical to the larger ones. Is one of Indiana's smallest salamanders.

Family: Lungless Salamanders

Grows up to 4 inches.

Can live more than five years

 

Jefferson's Salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum)
 
 
photo by Andrew Hoffman
 
The Jefferson's Salamander can be found statewide except for extreme northern portions and southwest tip. Has become somewhat uncommon in some areas because its low reproduction rate.
 
Family: Mole Salamanders
 
May grow up to 8 inches
 
May live 15 years or more.
 
 

Cave Salamander

photo by Kansas dept. Wildlife

The cave salamander can be found mostly in the southern portion of the state, and only is found in a few other surrounding states. The cave salamander is a great climber, they climb up rock walls and crevices in search of insects.

Family: Lungless Salamanders

Grows to about 7 inches.

 

Marbled Salamander (Ambystoma opacum)

Photo by Andrew Hoffman

The marbled salamander is a very desired species, it is often found in the reptile and amphibian trade. Young marbled manders often feed on tiger mander larvae.

Family: Mole manders

Grows up to 5 inches in length 

S. two lined Salamander (Eurycea cirrigera)
 
 
photo by Andrew Hoffman
 
Is found mostly in the southern portion of the state. Is widely unknown as far as its history goes, some two lined manders never complete the life cycle, keeping the outer gills their entire life, similar to the eastern newt.
 
Family: Lungless manders
 
Grows up to 4 inches

Blue Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma laterale)

Photo by Greg Lipps copyright

When this salamander is picked up, it will move from side to side possibly attempting to bite, and will release a sticky liquid from its glands, so when a predator attempts to eat, it is foul tasting. The blue spotted mander is becoming harder to find in Indiana.

Family: Mole Salamanders

Grows to about 5 inches

Northern Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber)
 
photo by Andrew Hoffman
 
One of our most beatiful species occurring, the northern red salamander is a chubby long salamander with small legs. It is reddish orange in color with multiple sized black spots. Its eyes are yellow.
Is sometimes collected for the pet trade. Can be found quite far away from water, and is usually encountered under leaf debree and forest floor.
 
Family: Lungless salamanders
 
Grows to 7 1/2 inches.
 
May live more than 15 years.

Streamside Salamander (Ambystoma barbouri)

Streamside Salamander

Photo by Eric Williams

The streamside salamander can be found in the south east portion of the state.

Family: Mole Salamanders

Grows up to 5 inches

Four toed Salamander (Hemidactylium scutatum)

Photo by www.herpnet.com

The four toed salamander is one of Indiana's smallest salamanders, and unlike most manders, it has four twos on its hind legs.

Family: Lungless manders

Grows to about 3 inches

 

Smallmouth Salamander (Ambystoma texanum)

Photo by Andrew Hoffman

This species produces toxic poisons from glands on its tail.

Family: Mole manders

Grows to about 7 inches.

Northern Slimy Salamander (Plethodon glutinosus)

Photo by Andrew Hoffman

Named for being very slimy, when handled, releases a slimy sticky substance that is quite hard to wash off. Still, a very attractive species.

Family: Lungless manders

Grows to about 8 inches

 

Green Salamander (Aneides aeneus)

Photo by Andrew Hoffman

Extremely rare in the state, may not even exist in the state anymore. Female green salamanders watch the eggs and stay close to them until they hatch.  

Family: Lungless salamanders

Grows to about 5 inches

Eastern Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens)

Above, Aquatic adult newt Photo by Andrew Hoffman

Above, Terrestrial Adult. Photo by www.chicagoherp.org

A very interesting salamander to study, the eastern newt starts out as a tadpole like larvae which overtime morph into land dwelling efts, and then they grow into adults. But sometimes, this species never turns into the eft, and remains aquatic all it's life! The aquatic adults live in streams, ponds, and lakes all year round. This species usually lives about seven to eight years average, but may live over ten years. The terrestrial (land living) eastern newt dark in color, usually greenish brown with a bright yellow/orange colored underside.

N. Zigzag Salamander (Plethdon dorsalis)

Photo by Andrew Hoffman

Mostly is found in the central southern portion of the state. Northwest portion of the state.

Family: Lungless salamanders

Grows to about 4 inches

Lesser Siren (Siren intermedia)

 

Photo by Takeshi Ebinuma copyright

A very rare and unique species. Isn't often seen, because it spends most of it's life under water in mud. When their underwater world drys up, they go into a cocoon state until it rains again. When handled, they make a clicking and hissing sound. They are similar in appearence to the mudpuppy, but they only have two front legs.

Family: Siren

Grows to 20 inches

Ravine Salamander (Plethodon electromorphus)

Photo by Andrew Hoffman

Very rare in Indiana, only being found in the extreme eastern portion of the state. The ravine mander is another completely terrestrial (land living) species, mating, laying eggs, and living on land forever.

Family: Lungless manders

Grows to about 6 inches

Mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus)
 
 
Photo by Andrew Hoffman
 
This species is totally aquatic, but is equipped with lungs and gills. It can be found in lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, and large bodies of water. Often caught by fishermen in their nets and sold in bait shops.
 
Family: Mudpuppy
 
Can grow  up to 17 inches long
 
May live longer than 20 years.

N. Dusky Salamander (Desmognathus fuscus)

Photo by Andrew Hoffman

Is becoming very uncommon in Indiana, can be found mostly in the south eastern portion of the state.

Family: Lungless salamanders

Grows up to 5 inches

 

Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis)
 
 
Photo by Andrew Hoffman
 
A very prehistoric looking animal, believed to have been around for quite some time, sadly is becoming very uncommon in Indiana, and is listed as endangered. Any way, this animal is thought of as ugly and creepy, I just love em'! I have only had a hand full of encounters with this animal, and each time I felt very sad for it's decline. The hellbender is one of our largest salamanders, and is completely aquatic. It is reported that they can live more than twenty years.
 
Family: Aquatic Salamanders
 
Can grow 20 inches or more.

 

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