Marbled Salamander

Fact File

Scientific Name: Ambystoma opacum

Classification: Amphibian

Size: Up to 4.5 inches

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

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.

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: February 22, 2021