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Marbled Salamander

Fact File

Scientific Name: Ambystoma opacum

Classification: Amphibian

Size: Up to 4.5 inches

Identifying Characteristics

These are chunky salamanders that have a black body and tail with distinct gray crossbars on females and white crossbars on males. The bars can be incomplete, run together, or enclose large spots. The belly is black with no markings. The larvae are difficult to distinguish from Spotted Salamander larvae.


Marbled Salamanders occur statewide, but are rare in the southwestern corner. Adults inhabit small rodent burrows in a variety of forested habitats.

Did You Know?

Marbled Salamanders are unique among Virginia’s mole salamanders in that they breed in the fall and guard their terrestrial eggs.

Role in the Web of Life

Breeding often occurs in late-September or October. Males enter the dried pools first and after courting females, deposit their spermatophores. Females then pick up the sperm packets in their cloacae for internal fertilization. Winter rains stimulate hatching. Larvae eat zooplankton, small invertebrates, and other salamander larvae. Adults eat mostly invertebrates such as worms, and insects.


Species appears to be secure in Virginia.

Last updated: January 19, 2024

The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources Species Profile Database serves as a repository of information for Virginia’s fish and wildlife species. The database is managed and curated by the Wildlife Information and Environmental Services (WIES) program. Species profile data, distribution information, and photography is generated by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, State and Federal agencies, Collection Permittees, and other trusted partners. This product is not suitable for legal, engineering, or surveying use. The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources does not accept responsibility for any missing data, inaccuracies, or other errors which may exist. In accordance with the terms of service for this product, you agree to this disclaimer.