Young Spotted Salamander

Spotted Salamander

(Ambystoma maculatum)

NH Conservation Status: Not listed.

State Rank Status: Widespread and secure.

Distribution: Throughout NH.

Description: A large dark salamander measuring 4.5-7.5 inches. Has up to 50 round yellow or orange spots arranged irregularly down the back and sides. Base color is generally black or bluish-black. 

Commonly Confused Species: Blue spotted salamander.

Habitat: Mixed woodlands with slow moving streams, swamps, or vernal pools. Adults spend their time underground or under logs, boards, or stones.   

Life History: Warm spring nights trigger movements to breeding pools where jelly masses containing 100-200 eggs are attached to submerged sticks and vegetation. Usually breeds in pools that do not contain predatory fish. Hibernate in the ground or under rotting stumps.

Conservation Threats: Loss of upland and vernal pool habitat, road mortality during migratory seasons.

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

"Spring Lizard"
Salamanders are sometimes referred to as ‘Spring Lizards’. This term is misleading as salamanders are amphibians and lizards are reptiles. New Hampshire does not have any native lizard species. ©NHFG/Eric Aldrich photo
Adult spotted salamander
Spotted salamanders have numerous yellow spots across their body. ©NHFG/Victor Young photo 
Vernal pool
Spotted salamanders, and other Ambystoma salamanders (marbled, blue-spotted, and Jefferson salamanders) depend on vernal pool habitats to lay their eggs because these habitats maintain water long enough for larval salamanders to develop but because vernal pools generally dry by late summer these areas lack reproducing populations of predatory fish. 
©Mike Marchand photo
Adult Spotted Salamander
Warm, rainy spring nights are a good time to look for migrating spotted salamanders. ©NHFG/Eric Aldrich photo
Male spermatophores (white sperm-filled jelly masses) are deposited at the bottom of pools. Female spotted salamanders use these spermatophores to fertilize their eggs. ©Mike Marchand photo
Spermatophore close-up
Close-up of several spermatophores attached to stick. 
©Mike Marchand photo
Spotted Salamander eggs
Spotted salamander eggs are encased in large gelatinous blobs. ©USDAFS/Trombley photo
Spotted Salamander eggs close-up
Egg development is usually completed within 45 days. ©NHFG/Victor Young photo
Spotted Salamander Larva
In its larval stage, the spotted salamander resembles a small tadpole with hairy horns protruding from the neck.
©USGS/Dana Drake photo
Young Spotted Salamander
About 90 days after hatching, the larval spotted salamander transforms to its terrestrial stage. As small as 2" in length, their yellow markings develop from specks to larger spots. ©NHFG/Victor Young photo
Adult Spotted Salamander
The full grown adult sports striking yellow spots. ©NHFG/Victor Young photo


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