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Greater Siren

Fact File

Scientific Name: Siren lacertina

Classification: Amphibian

Conservation Status:

Size: Up to 38 inches

Distribution: Greater Sirens occur primarily in the Coastal Plain of Virginia. They use a wide range of freshwater aquatic habitats as long as there is abundant vegetation.

Identifying Characteristics

This salamander has a pair of large feathery gills and one pair of front legs with four toes. There are 36–40 costal grooves behind the legs on each side. The body is nearly uniform olive, dark brown or almost black, sometimes with gold flecking on the head and body.

Did You Know?

In 2018, a new species of siren from northern Florida and southern Alabama was formerly described: Reticulated Siren (Siren reticulata).

Role in the Web of Life

Sirens are fully aquatic and active at night; they hide in vegetation during the day. When wetlands dry, sirens form a cocoon from skin secretions and aestivate until water returns. Females lay 100–500 eggs singly or in small clusters adhered to leaf litter in late-winter and early spring. They eat a wide range of invertebrates and even algae.

Conservation

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

Last updated: February 22, 2021