image courtesy of
Features: Large, feathery,
external gills, slender legs with four toes on each foot, laterally flattened
tail, dark stripe running
through eye, snout is blunt, tail fins do not extend on to body
Gray to brownish to almost black, stomach speckled
gray with a few large dark spots, larvae and juvenile have broad dark
strips down back that are border by yellow stripes
aquatic (due to gills as only breathing apparatus), streams and weedy
ponds, the mudpuppy needs water that has coverings (rocks, weeds or logs)
and are more abundant in clear waters, but can withstand muddy water if
clear water is available for reproduction, shelters by day in deep water
under rocks and wood overhangs. Mudpuppies are primarily nocturnal, but
may be active during they day in muddy or weed-choked water. They
are active throughout the year.
Sperm is exchanged in fall and fertilization
is internal. Eggs are laid in spring. Females lay eggs in a nest under
stones or logs at water depths over 10 cm. 18-180 eggs are laid at a time.
Larval Stage: Females
may stay with eggs during incubation. Larvae take four weeks to hatch
and take five to eight years to
attain sexual maturity. First breeding occurs when individual reaches
20 cm in length. Their reproductive life can span over
Feeding Habits: Feeds
at night on fish, crayfish, aquatic insects,
worms, fish eggs; they rely heavily upon olfactory cues to find
Range: Mudpuppies widely range
form Eastern U. S. to Southern portions of Canada, from southern Quebec
to Northern Georgia, primarily west of the Appalachians, expanding as
far west as North Dakota
(see map below)
eggs under a rock.
This image courtesy of
"The Chicago Herpetological Society is a
group of reptile and amphibian enthusiasts. Its goals are education, conservation
and the advancement of herpetology. Members have unique opportunities
to further their knowledge of and participation in all aspects of herpetology.
The Chicago Herpetological Society is a nonprofit organization incorporated
under the laws of the state of Illinois."
"The KHS is a non-profit organization established
in 1974 and designed to encourage education and dissemination of scientific
information through the facilities of the Society; to encourage conservation
of wildlife in general and of amphibians, turtles, and reptiles in Kansas
in particular; and to achieve closer cooperation and understanding between
herpetologists, so that they may work together in common cause. The KHS
is not a herpetocultural organization, but encourages individuals to keep
and maintain native Kansas amphibians, turtles, and reptiles for educational
in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation
"Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation
(PARC) hopes to change these attitudes by promoting sound conservation
and management of our native U.S. herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians),
and also through educational efforts to raise public awareness about the
conservation needs of reptiles and amphibians."
Museum of Natural History and Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
1 June 2000.http//museum.nhm.uga.edu/gawildlife/
Accessed 6 November 2001.
herps/salaman/Nemacul.htm Accessed 6 November
J. Mahoney. Museum of Vertebrate Zoology. 9 May 2001.
Accessed 6 November 2001.
of Michigan Museum of Zoology. December 1999.
6 November 2001.
LeClere. Reptiles and Amphibians of Minnesota.
salamanders/mudpuppy.html. Accessed 6 November
of Canada. http://collections.ic.gc.ca/
11 November 2001.
of Canada. 2000. http://www.glfc.cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/index-en/
research-e/irm-e/sal-e.html. Accessed 11 November
J. Hansen. Lake Superior: The State of the Lake in 1989. The Great Lakes
Fishery Commission. April 1990.
Sp90_3.pdf. Accessed 11 November 2001.
2000 Monthly Report. NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. Division
of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources. http://www.dec.state.ny.us/website/dfwmr/sept00.htm
11 November 2001.
and Endangered Species of North Carolina.
11 November 2001.
and Reptiles in Great Lakes Wetlands: Threats and Conservation. November
15, 1996. Minister of the Environment Canada. http://www.on.ec.gc.ca/glimr/data/amphib-reptile-factsheet/intro.html.
Accessed 11 November 2001.
Creation/revision date: November
image courtesy of
maculosus can be found typically in the Eastern United
States. They tend to reside under rocks and logs in large rivers and lakes.
They have been previously found at depths of up to seventy feet (LeClere).
A typical mudpuppy will be eight to thirteen inches in length and reddish
brown colored with black spots. Their heads are large and somewhat flat
with large maroonish colored gills on the sides (Siebert). This species
seems to eat whatever it finds, but some common foods would be worms,
crayfish, fish eggs, salamanders and insects. Since their vision is poor
they must rely on other
senses to catch their prey (LeClere). A male and female N. maculosus will
typically mate in the fall, and the female will lay her eggs in late spring.
The female will place her eggs at the top of her nest, which is buried
under a rock or some other rock like object. She will then stay to protect
her eggs until they have hatched into larvae. The exact time at which
she leaves them varies from one female to another (LeClere). It can take
up to five years for a N. maculosus to develop into a sexually mature
adult, and their sexual life span is about twenty-five years. N. maculosus
has three stages of
development the egg, the larva, and the adult stage. This species of salamander
is fully aquatic and usually nocturnal. They are also solitary except
for when they are reproducing (Siebert).
|Amphibia Web Status
No IUCN Listing
||No CITES Listing
are heavily taken out of their natural environment as pets. Sometimes
they are used as subjects for scientific experimentation and biological
research. Mudpuppies are often caught by fisherman and then killed
because they are believed to be detrimental to sports fishing. Logging
in the Southeast United States has caused habitat destruction. Water
pollution and silation (suspended solids in the water) has adversely
affected mudpuppies. As with many amphibians they are subject to
toxic chemicals and heavy metals which has been shown to cause mortality
and deformities. This is due to the long life of the species, its
carnivorous dies and delayed sexuality, which increases accumulation
of toxic substances in fat tissue. They are listed as endangered
in Iowa and special concern in Maryland and North Carolina.
Some populations have been
reduced by the use of lampricides in rivers and streams for lamprey
Lake Superior lampricides which are used to kill lampreys are applied
without affecting most non-target aquatic vertebrates found in Lake
Superior tributaries, but some species such as stonecat (Noturus
flavus), trout-perch (Percopsis omiscomaycus), brown bullhead (Ictalurus
nebulosus), and mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus) are sensitive to the
lampricide, and mortality can occur during treatment. Also, some
mortality of less sensitive fish species may be caused if lampricide
is applied when spawning occurs. At recommended dosages lampricides
kills larval lampreys but also larval amphibians. (http://www.glfc.org/pubs/SpecialPubs/
lamprey control treatment conducted in 2000 in Lake Champlain killed
more than 10,000 larval sea lamprey, but nontarget mortality was
observed among stonecat, logperch, two-lined salamander and mudpuppy
Snapping Turtle eggs and Mudpuppies from the Great Lakes and St.
Lawrence River have been shown to contain high concentrations of
fat-soluble contaminants which are absorbed as food
is digested. These include polychlorinated
biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins and
furans, and organochlorine pesticides . Abnormal development, such
as unhatched eggs or deformed animals, occurs at the highest rates
in the sites which are most contaminated. (http://www.bio.davidson.edu/Biology/herpcons/Conservation/
Mudpuppies in St.
Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers, with extra or fewer than normal toes,
and toes that were fused together were found at higher rates (about
60 per cent) in the most contaminated sites than in clean sites
(about 8 per cent), (see picture below). The population with the
highest contamination had fewer younger organisms. Toxic chemicals
present in the eggs may be causing poor survival of the eggs young
animals of the species. Although there has been a decrease in contamination
in the Great Lakes in the last 20 years, there are still localized
areas of contamination. PCBs accumulate in the fat tissue of mudpuppies
and may be incorporated into the liver and transferred to eggs,
where they have been found in high levels. (http://www.on.ec.gc.ca/glimr/data/amphib-reptile-factsheet/intro.html)
Below: Radiograph of mudpuppy
limbs showing polydactily (extra toes) and toes that are fused together
at contaminated sites in Lake Champlain
This image courtesy of Biodiversity
image courtesy of Augusta
Creek Watershed Association.
This image courtesy of Environment
The image courtesy of Illinois
Department of Natural Resources.