Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

Caudata     Necturus maculosus -- Mudpuppy

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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: Bushy external gills; 4 toes on hind feet; dark stripe running through eye.

Similar Species: Hellbender, larval Ambystoma.

Subspecies: Mudpuppy, N. m. maculosus.

Description: Large (up to 34 cm TL), stout-bodied brownish gray, rust brown, or black salamander with scattered round black spots of various sizes. Costal grooves 15-16. Belly gray with dark spots, or plain gray. Snout blunt, head flattened and widest behind eyes. Tail short, tail fins not extending onto body. Larva and juvenile have broad dark stripes down back that are bordered on either side by yellow stripes.

Habitat: Lakes, ponds, rivers, and large creeks. More abundant in clear waters but can withstand turbid, mud-banked streams if gravel headwaters are available for reproduction.

Natural History: This totally harmless and attractive salamander is active year-round. Shelters by day in deeper water under rocks, piles of driftwood, overhangs, and other objects. Feeds at night on fish, crayfish, aquatic insects, and other invertebrates. Males search out females in autumn and mate in depressions under large rocks, logs, boards, or other submerged objects. Female attaches eggs to underside of rocks or logs the following spring. Larvae hatch in 1-2 months and mature in 5-6 years.

Status: Statewide but seldom seen, except by fishermen. Probably more abundant and widespread prior to extensive stream modification.

 

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