The Silvery Salamander (Ambystoma platineum or JJL) is a member of the Mole salamander (Ambystomidae) genus. It is usually between 5.5 – 7.75 in (12 – 19.9 cm) long and is slender with many small silvery-blue spots on its back and sides. It is brownish gray and the area around its vent is grey. The silvery salamander a unisexual Ambystoma hybrid species, taking genetic material from both the Jefferson salamander (A. jeffersonianum) and the blue-spotted salamander (A. laterale), having two sets of chromosomes from the Jefferson salamander and one set from the blue-spotted. A similar unisexual Ambystomid, Tremblay's Salamander (Ambystoma tremblayi or JLL), also exists, having two sets from the blue-spotted and one from the Jefferson's.
While formally named, the silvery salamander is most often referred to by its genomic components (JJL) rather than as Ambystoma platineum in scientific literature.
Lacking its own males, the Silvery Salamander breeds with male Blue-Spotted or Jefferson Salamanders from March to April. The males' spermatophores only stimulate egg development; their genetic material does not contribute to the offspring's DNA. This mode of reproduction is called kleptogenesis. The females lay cylindrical egg masses and attach them to underwater twigs. It is not often observed and its diet and lifestyle are unknown.
Habitat and range
These salamanders live almost anywhere between south-central Michigan to adjacent Indiana and Ohio to western Massachusetts south to northern New Jersey. They are commonly found in or near shallow rivers and ponds in deciduous forest. There is an extremely limited population of the salamanders in Vermilion County, Illinois with only one remaining natural population known. They are considered endangered within the state. Theory states that the population may have dropped due to the vernal pool in which they live not retaining water for a long enough period for their tadpoles to reach metamorphosis.
The Silvery Salamander's predators range from birds, fish, raccoons, and dogs.
Their diet is mainly slugs, ants, spiders, soft insects, and worms.
- National Audubon Society Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians