Jefferson Salamander

Jefferson Salamander

(Ambystoma jeffersonianum)

NH Conservation Status: Species of Special Concern, Wildlife Action Plan Species in Greatest Need of Conservation.

State Rank Status: Vulnerable to extirpation or extinction.

Distribution: All confirmed Jefferson salamanders have been in southwest NH, near the CT River.

Description: A large (4-7 inch), slender salamander with a gray or brownish body and varying amounts of bluish flecks along the sides. The tail is almost as long as the body.  

Commonly Confused Species: Blue-spotted salamander, blue-spotted/Jefferson complex.

Habitat: Shady deciduous woodlands most often underground or under cover objects such as logs, stumps, and leaf litter. May be found in steep rocky areas.

Life History: Breeds in vernal pools attaching small masses of eggs to submerged twigs or vegetation. Hibernates underground or within rotting logs. 

Conservation Threats: Local populations may be affected by habitat loss, logging operations, road mortality during the breeding season. Forms hybrids with blue-spotted salamanders. Pure diploid (two sets of chromosomes) Jefferson salamanders are extremely rare in New Hampshire. Most individuals or populations are either blue-spotted salamanders or blue-spotted/ Jefferson salamander hybrids. 

Distribution map: Click here for a map showing the towns where this species is reported to occur in NH

Blue-spotted/Jefferson hybrid
Blue-spotted and Jefferson salamanders frequently hybridize making identification difficult. The location of the observation will indicate the likelihood of either a Jefferson (near Connecticut River NH) or blue-spotted salamander (distant from Connecticut River NH). However, genetic tests would be required to confirm whether a specimen was truly a blue-spotted or Jefferson salamander versus a blue-spotted/ Jefferson hybrid. ©Mike Marchand photo
Jefferson Salamander
Jefferson salamanders are large salamanders that breed in vernal pool habitats. Jefferson salamanders have been confirmed in only a few locations in New Hampshire near the Connecticut River. True (not hybrid) Jefferson salamanders tend to be longer with less blue flecking than true blue-spotted salamanders, which tend to be shorter with more bluish blotching or speckling. However, these species frequently hybridize forming individuals with intermediate characteristics.  ©Dave Kazyak photo


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