Dwarf Waterdog

Fact File

Scientific Name: Necturus punctatus

Classification: Amphibian

Conservation Status:

Size: Up to 7.5 inches

Distribution: Dwarf Waterdogs occur in south-central Virginia in the Coastal Plain and the eastern edge of the Piedmont. Slow moving streams with silty bottoms, woody debris, and leaves are the primary habitats.

Identifying Characteristics

This species has red, feathery gills and a paddle-like tail. There are four toes on each foot. The body is uniform slate gray to dark brown with a few darker brown smudges or irregular spots. The middle of the belly is white to cream without spots. The larvae are uniform dark gray and resemble adults.

Did You Know?

Waterdogs have lateral lines on their heads like fish that are used to detect subtle changes in water movement to identify other waterdogs, predators, and prey.

Role in the Web of Life

All life history stages are aquatic; they are never found on land. Females lay 15–55 eggs under objects in the substrate. Larvae have been found in April and November. They eat aquatic invertebrates. Likely predators include fish, wading birds, otters, and watersnakes.


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

Last updated: February 22, 2021