Barred Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum mavortium)
- Other Names
- Tiger Salamander
- The tiger salamander is the largest land-dwelling salamander in the world. The barred tiger salamander typically grows from 6 - 8 1/2 inches. Overall, the body is dark brown to black with yellow bars and spots giving it the "tiger-stripe" look.
- Life History
These large salamanders make a nice meal for many animals such as snakes, turtles, herons and fish. They, in turn, may predate on insects, earthworms, small mice and even other amphibians. Barred tiger salamanders best avoid predators by a nocturnal and secretive lifestyle. They are active under the cover of darkness and spend most of their time in underground burrows or in thick vegetation near water. This salamander may take cover in mammal burrows or, if the soil is soft enough, they will dig out their own shelter.
Tiger salamanders have a fascinating and adaptable life process. Typically, tiger salamander larvae feed and grow during the spring and early summer and metamorphose two to five months after hatching. However, some populations never metamorphose. If the water system where they live is permanent and the environment surrounding the ponded area is dry and inhospitable, they may retain gills and a wide tail fin, crucial larval characteristics that allow them to live underwater. These salamanders mature in the water and even are able to mate and reproduce, although they maintain the body of an immature salamander. This process is called neoteny. Other tiger salamanders, in response to the seasonal drying out of their aquatic habitat, must be able to metamorphose on demand. They even may metamorphose if they are removed from water and handled temporarily.
Those barred tiger salamanders that are lucky enough to breed, either as terrestrial or aquatic salamanders, usually do so in late winter, but breeding may take place whenever there is enough moisture. Once the female has attached her egg masses to underwater debris in temporary pools, she has nothing more to do with them. They hatch three to five weeks later, depending on water temperature.
- They can be found near water in forested and prairie areas where there is adequate moisture.
- The barred tiger salamander ranges from central Nebraska to northeastern Mexico. They are distributed throughout Texas except for the eastern quarter.