greater siren (Siren lacertina)
CHARACTERISTICS: This is an elongated, eel-like salamander
that lacks hind limbs and has a pair of virtually useless forelimbs.
The hands contain 4 digits. This species is essentially a permanent
larva. The adult is aquatic and has gills. The color is gray to olive
with many black dots over the head, sides and back with yellow
blotches on the side. The young may exhibit some striping. Adults
reach total lengths of 50-98 cm. The head is shovel-like for burrow-
ing in muddy bottoms. Reproduction is poorly documented, but it is
thought that fertilization occurs externally. Breeding occurs in spring,
and hatching probably occurs about 2 months later.
DISTRIBUTION: This species is found is shallow, muddy-bottom-
ed ponds, swamps, and ditches. It has been collected from shallow
roadside ditches, under rocks in swift flowing streams, weedy ponds
and pools, muddy swamps, and weed-choked and mud-bottomed
FOODS: This salamander eats a variety of prey, often consuming
predominantly mollusks. Filamentous algae, crayfish, insects, and
fish are also eaten.
Crooked Run Valley