The marbled salamander is a stocky, boldly banded salamander. The bands of females tend to be gray, while those of males are more white. Adults can grow to about 11 cm, (4 in), small compared to other members of its genus. Like most of the mole salamanders, it is secretive, spending most of its life under logs or in burrows. It is most frequently encountered when moving towards breeding ponds in the autumn.
Habitat and range
Marbled salamanders are found in the eastern United States, from southern New England to northern Florida, and west to Illinois and Texas. They have been found as far north as New Hampshire, though only two sightings have been reported there. Their habitats are damp woodlands, forests, and places with soft and wet soil. Seasonally flooded areas are essential for breeding, but the salamanders do not normally enter the water.
Adults spend most of their lives underground, and in deep leaf litter, but wander at night during the breeding season. Adults usually tend to come out more when it is rainy and/or snowy. Breeding takes place in fall, typically September to December. Females lay eggs in clusters of up to 120 under logs or in clumps of vegetation in low areas that are likely to flood during winter rains. They dig a small depression in soft soil and lay the eggs in it. Eggs hatch the same fall or winter if rains come, but they may overwinter and hatch the following spring. The embryos hatch soon after the nest is inundated with the rising waters of the seasonal pool. The marbled salamander larvae gain a size advantage by feeding and growing for several months before the Jefferson salamanders and spotted salamanders hatch later in the spring. Larvae typically mature as quickly as two months in the southern part of their range, but take up to six months to mature in the northern part. Marbled salamanders, like other members of this genus, are reported to have relatively long life spans, 8–10 years or more.
Adults take terrestrial invertebrates, such as worms, insects, centipedes, and mollusks (snails, slugs). Larvae take small aquatic animals (zooplankton), but larger individuals will take eggs and larvae of other amphibians, as well.
- Hammerson (2004). Ambystoma opacum. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 12 May 2006. Database entry includes a range map and a brief justification of why this species is of least concern
- James W. Petranka (1998), Salamanders of the United States and Canada, Smithsonian Books. ISBN 1-56098-828-2
- Thomas F. Tyning (1990), A Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles, Little, Brown. ISBN 0-316-81713-9
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