Updates Related to COVID-19 »

Mole Salamander

Fact File

Scientific Name: Ambystoma talpoideum

Classification: Amphibian

Conservation Status:

Size: Up to 4.5 inches

Distribution: Mole Salamanders occur in the middle Piedmont in Virginia. These are temporary pond breeders in swamps, river floodplains, and fish-free impoundments in mixed hardwood and pine forests.

Identifying Characteristics

The body color is brown or gray with pale bluish white flecks; the tail usually has black spots. The belly in adults is uniform gray to olive brown without markings, whereas larvae and juveniles have a plain yellowish belly with a black stripe down the middle.

Did You Know?

In some southern populations, the larvae do not metamorphose into the adult form, but retain gills and reproduce in the larval form.

Role in the Web of Life

In Virginia, males enter ponds in late winter. Females lay up to 100 eggs singly or in small clusters on the bottom in leaf litter. Larva eat small aquatic invertebrates, and salamander larvae including their own species. Adults eat terrestrial invertebrates such as worms and soft-bodied insects and their larvae. Predators include northern watersnakes, black racers, gartersnakes, ribbonsnakes, and wading birds.

Conservation

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

Last updated: February 22, 2021