Meet the Critters! The Tiger Salamander

With their wide mouths, tiger salamanders look like they're always grinning.

This week’s critter is the tiger salamander!  The tiger salamander is the state amphibian of Kansas, and an all around handsome critter.  They’re named for their beautiful stripes, which help them stay camouflaged. We’ve got two tiger salamanders here at KWEC, and they are about three years old.  A tiger salamander can live to be 15 years old in the wild, and up to 20 years in captivity!

Tiger salamanders can grow to be up to 14 inches long, though they average around 6-8 inches.  It is the largest land dwelling salamander.  (The largest salamander in the world is the completely aquatic Chinese giant salamander, which can grow to be an incredible six feet long!)

"Do I have something on my face?" Someone's been burrowing through the dirt!

Adult tiger salamanders spend much of their time on land, in areas where they can stay cool and moist.  They lay their eggs in the water, and their larvae spend about a year living in the water.  After that year, they go through metamorphosis; losing their gills and moving onto land.

The tiger salamander is a fearsome hunter, coming out at night to track down worms, insects, and even small rodents and amphibians.  Here’s a great video of a hunting tiger salamander.

Up close and personal with a tiger salamander.

About Jean Aycock

Jean Aycock is an Educator at Ft. Hays State University’s Kansas Wetlands Education Center (KWEC) at Cheyenne Bottoms. Jean received a Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry - Wildlife Management from Mississippi State University, and a Master of Science degree in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Arkansas-Monticello, studying shorebird migration. Jean is a native of southeast Missouri, and an avid birder, hiker, and crafter.

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