Caudata Ambystoma tigrinum -- Tiger Salamander
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Purple shade indicates vouchered specimens. Light blue (cyan)
shade indicates photographic records. Yellow shade indicates verified
sighting. Slanted hatch indicates pre-1980 records only
NOTE: Not all specimens upon which these maps are based have been verified.
Key Characters: Large head; dark body marked with irregular yellow spots or blotches, some extending onto belly.
Similar Species: Spotted salamander.
Subspecies: Eastern tiger salamander, A. t. tigrinum
Description: The largest terrestrial salamander in Illinois (up to 33 cm TL). Pattern varies from dark background and small yellow spots (juvenile) to large fused spots and blotches obscuring background (old adult). Hatchling larva lacks balancers and is yellow to tan with paired black blotches on back. Older larva has wide head, pale underside, and toes with broad, flat bases; occasional overwintering larva reaches adult size.
Habitat: Forests, woodlands, pastures, orchards, prairies, and cultivated fields. Tolerant of habitat disturbance within towns and cities, as long as breeding ponds remain.
Natural History: Adults live in burrows and under logs, rocks, and other cover and move about the surface at night especially after rain and during winter and spring breeding migration. Fish-free ponds are required for breeding and larval life. During February-April, females attach eggs to twigs, leaves, and plant stems under water in jelly-covered clusters of 20-50. Larvae grow fast and are important pond predators. Larvae transform in late summer or autumn. Adults feed on beetles, centipedes, slugs, worms, and other invertebrates.
Status: Persists but is not abundant where disturbed by agriculture and urban development. Imported larvae often sold as fish bait under the erroneous name "waterdogs." Locally common.