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Eastern Lesser Siren

Fact File

Scientific Name: Siren intermedia intermedia

Classification: Amphibian

Conservation Status:

Size: Up to 27 inches

Distribution: This species occurs in the Coastal Plain in Virginia. It prefers shallow wetlands such as beaver ponds, swamps, slow moving streams, and ditches where the bottom is covered with organic debris.

Identifying Characteristics

This is an eel-like salamander with 31–35 costal grooves and only a pair of front legs each with four toes. Adults and larvae have feathery external gills. The upper body is dark gray with scattered darker irregular spots on the back. Juveniles have a red band across the snout and along the side of the head.

Did You Know?

Sirens sometimes make a clicking noise, but the function is unknown.

Role in the Web of Life

Root masses of aquatic plants provide cover. When the water dries out, sirens will aestivate by forming a cocoon in the substrate with secretions from skin glands where it will wait until it rains. Females lay 200–500 gelatinous eggs in winter amongst dense vegetation. Food consists of worms, insect larvae, and small fish.

Conservation

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

Last updated: February 9, 2021