Salamanders, Newts & Mudpuppies

The County's Caudatas

Salamanders, newts and mudpuppies have slender bodies, long tails, short noses and four limbs. They are carnivores that eat animals like insects, earthworms and snails. Each belongs to a different family in the order Caudata, and each has different stages of development.

Salamanders have two stages of development: aquatic tadpole and terrestrial adult. Adult salamanders spend most of their time on land underground and return to the water only to breed.

Newts have three stages of development: aquatic tadpole, terrestrial juvenile, which is called an “eft,” and aquatic adult, although some individuals may completely bypass the eft stage. Once adults, newts rarely return to land.

Mudpuppies have one stage —  aquatic — and all mudpuppies, even adults, have prominent gills.



Blue-Spotted Salamander Ambystoma laterale

What It Looks Like

Black or dark gray; pale blue spots on the side of its body

Where It Lives

Moist forests in burrows and shelters and under moss, logs and damp leaf litter

What It Eats

Centipedes, spiders and slugs, worms and snails

Fun Fact

When captured by a predator and escape from being eaten, the blue-spotted salamander’s tail detaches from its body! The tail will continue to move about to keep the predator’s attention, allowing the salamander to slither away. The tail will regrow in a year or two.


Blue-Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma laterale) Image by Todd Pierson/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 


Spotted Salamander Ambystoma maculatum

What It Looks Like

Blue-black; two rows of yellow or orange spots run from its head to its tail

Where It Lives

Moist forests near rivers and streams in burrows, underground holes of other animals, or under rocks and logs

What It Eats

Insects, spiders, millipedes, slugs and worms; it will even eat its own sibling, if it can swallow it

Fun Fact

This salamander secretes a toxin from its back and tail to fend off predators.


Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum)  Image by Dave Huth/CC BY-NC 2.0


Tiger Salamander Ambystoma tigrinum

What It Looks Like

Brown, gray or green; yellow stripes or blotches across its body

Where It Lives

Near vernal pools, marshes and streams in burrows

What It Eats

Insects, worms, frogs and other salamanders

Fun Fact

This salamander digs its own burrow, much unlike other salamanders, up to 2 feet below ground.


 Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum) Image by Tristan Schramer


Newts and Mudpuppies