Common Mudpuppy

Fact File

Scientific Name: Necturus maculosus maculosus

Classification: Amphibian

Conservation Status:

Size: Up to 19 inches

Distribution: Mudpuppies have been found in Virginia only in the far southwestern rivers. They occur in shallow rivers such as the Clinch and Powell rivers.

Identifying Characteristics

Adults have large, red, feathery gills, four toes on each foot, and a paddle-like tail. Coloration on the back is gray to rust-brown with faded blue-black spots. A dark horizontal line runs from the snout to the gills on each side of the head. Larvae and juveniles have a broad, grayish stripe down the back bordered on each side by a yellowish stripe.

Did You Know?

For many years mudpuppies were used in biology classes for dissection.

Role in the Web of Life

Mudpuppies are nocturnal and can be active year-round. Mating occurs fall through spring. Females turn upside down and lay 20–200 eggs singly on the underside of rocks or logs in water, and guard their eggs until they hatch. Prey includes a variety of insects and their larvae. Predators include fish, otters, and larger mudpuppies.


Tier III Species of Greatest Conservation Need in Virginia’s Wildlife Action Plan.

Last updated: February 22, 2021