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Range: Statewide, common
Habitat: hardwood forest under moist logs/stones
Reproduction: breed in shallow forest ponds lacking fish & vernal pools; early spring
Behavior: Poison glands in skin, mostly on backs and tails, release sticky white toxin when threatened. Return to breed in pond where they hatched.
Diet: forest floor invertebrates, occasionally smaller sals
Spotted Salamander – Ambystoma maculatum
Range: Statewide (except maybe NE), fairly common but in decline
Habitat: Woodlands, low land swamps to dry hillsides
Reproduction: Fall breeders; lay eggs on land (usually under a log) in shallow wetlands, nests may flood
Behavior: females guard nests until hatching
Diet: terrestrial invertebrates & mollusks
Marbled Salamander - Ambystoma opacum
Range: Mostly western, also south-central; moderately common but rarely seen
Habitat: Floodplain forests or upland forests near breeding sites; often in underground burrows or beneath objects
Reproduction: Winter/early spring breeders; breed in shallow ponds or flooded depressions w/out fish; neotenic in many locations
Behavior: Last tails & expose noxious secretions of parotid glands on heads when threatened
Diet: invertebrates - insects, worms, snails
Mole Salamander - Ambystoma talpoideum
Range: primarily western TN; replaced on Cumberland Plateau by recently described streamside sal but fairly common in range
Habitat: lowland floodplain wetlands, hidden under logs, rocks, leaf litter or burrows of other animals
Reproduction: Early spring breeders; deposit eggs in ephemeral pools
Behavior: When threatened will raise & wave tails
Diet: insects, slugs, worms, occasionally aquatic crustaceans
Smallmouth Salamander - Ambystoma texanum
Range: not well known, occurs sporadically in middle & eastern TN; uncommon to rare, likely declining
Habitat: Adults terrestrial - forests, grasslands, or marshy areas w/ loose soil for burrowing (live in burrows) & near semi-permanent body of water for egg-laying
Reproduction: late winter-early spring breeders;
lay eggs in semi-permanent to permanent ponds w/out fish
Diet: terrestrial invertebrates
Eastern Tiger Sal - Ambystoma tigrinum
Range: statewide, common
ponds and sloughs in or near forests as adults; juveniles (efts) occur in a diversity of forested habitats.
Reproduction: Best breeding ponds are fish-free, but extensively vegetated borders of fish stocked lakes also can serve as breeding
habitat; courtship occurs in late autumn and spring, but eggs are laid only during spring
Behavior: Unusual life cycle includes three distinct post-hatching stages: (1) aquatic larva, (2) terrestrial (juvenile) eft, and
(3) aquatic adult. Adults have toxic skin
secretions, enabling them to co-exist with fish
Diet: variety of small aquatic invertebrates as adults including crustaceans, insect larvae, and mollusks
Eastern Newt - Notophthalmus viridescens
Range: western, relatively uncommon
Habitat: muddy swamps and ponds and other shallow bodies of water
Reproduction: Breeds early spring; eggs are laid in shallow bodies of water that are very vegetated
Behavior: Secretes cocoons during droughts and can withstand drought for up to a year in a state of aestivation. Poor dispersal ability over land. Produces a shrill call when
Diet: aquatic invertebrates such as insects, worms, and snails
Lesser Siren - Siren intermedia
Range: western, very common
Habitat: bayous and ditches of the Mississippi Delta in almost any unpolluted, muddy or mucky water
Reproduction: Early spring breeder, underwater. Females lay strings of
~200 eggs in mud depressions under logs or other debris; sometimes lay eggs at
the interface between terrestrial and aquatic habitats.
Behavior: Sometimes called "congo eels," will bite viciously if handled; rarely leave water except after heavy rain.
Diet: earthworms, crayfish, fish, insects, mollusks, snakes, tadpoles, frogs, and small amphiumas
Three-toed Amphiuma - Amphiuma tridactylum
Range: eastern 2/3 of TN, uncommon-rare & declining
Habitat: clear, cool, rocky streams of good water quality and moderately large size; hides under large, flat rocks.
Reproduction: Fall breeder; males build nests under rocks consisting of depressions for egg deposition; they attract females and fertilize eggs externally somewhat similar to spawning behavior of fish
Behavior: Nocturnal. Males guard nests and aerate eggs; egg cannibalism occurs in many locations
Diet: Primarily crayfish, but also other invertebrates, fish, and other hellbenders
Hellbender – Cryptobranchus alleganiensis
Range: throughout TN except nw corner, locally common but rarely seen.
Habitat: fast-flowing streams with rocky bottoms; hide under rocks and logs during the day
Reproduction: Fall breeder; eggs are usually deposited under rocks or logs in the streams in which they reside; females tend eggs after laying
Behavior: Nocturnal, completely aquatic. Retain external gills that resemble ostrich plumes throughout life (paedomorphic)
Diet: aquatic animals including fish, fish eggs, crayfish, aquatic insects, mollusks, and other amphibians
Common Mudpuppy - Necturus maculosus
Range: scattered in central & east TN (Cumberland Mountains, Cumberland Plateau, and Highland Rim), locally uncommon & declining
Habitat: almost entirely in crevices of rock outcroppings, especially sandstone; crevices must be damp but not wet
Reproduction: Usually breeds in May & June but can occur later. Deposit eggs on upper walls of moist rock crevices; females tend eggs and young after they hatch. Direct development of eggs; no aquatic larval form; young resemble miniature adults.
Behavior: Highly arboreal and adapted to crawling around on rock faces (suction cups on toes, prehensile tails, flattened, and colored like lichens). Very rarely seen on ground, in trees, or on roads. Males defend their territories against other green salamanders.
Diet: insects and other invertebrates (e.g., spiders) found in crevices
Green Salamander - Aneides aenus
Range: eastern & central TN (recently split from spotted dusky sal in western), extremely abundant
Habitat: brooks, near streams, and in seepage areas, but most commonly along edges of small woodland streams where stones, chunks of wood, and debris provide shelter for salamanders and their food
Reproduction: breeds in fall & spring; eggs are attached to the undersides of rocks, logs, or other substrates in or near water. If hatched on land, larvae immediately move to the water for the aquatic stage.
Behavior: Will bite predators (e.g., garter snakes) if attacked and will autotomize their tails to flee; tails are not lost as readily as those of some woodland salamanders (e.g., zigzag salamanders)
Diet: insects and other arthropods, such as spiders
Northern Dusky Salamander - Desmognathus fuscus
Range: only at high elevations (≥3000 ft) in Great Smoky Mountains National Park; presumably uncommon but not well-studied.
Habitat: variety of moist habitats around streams, seepage areas and springs where they are found under rocks and other moist litter on the forest floor
Reproduction: Breeds in late spring and deposits eggs (5–30) in early summer; lay eggs under moss or in spaces between rocks in wet areas
Behavior: Appear to be ambush predators. Females guard eggs until they hatch, and larvae move to streams to develop aquatically
Diet: insects and other arthropods, such as spiders
Imitator Salamander – Desmognathus imitator