Jefferson salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum)
CHARACTERISTICS: This is a fairly nondescript salamander with
a slender build, a long snout, and long toes. It measures 4 to 7 inches
in length. Above, they are dark brown to almost black, with pale blue
flecks on the lower sides and limbs. Older adults sometimes lack the
blue spots. The belly is much paler than the sides and back. Courtship
behavior has shown that this species departs radically from the
typical Ambystomid pattern, engaging in a type of amplexus. They
naturally breed in vernal or transient pools and mating and egg-laying
may be completed in a few nights to a week. The onset of breeding
activity is assumed to be triggered by the first early warm spring rains
or other conditions of high humidity and temperatures above freezing.
DISTRIBUTION: This species is found in far northern and north-west-
ern Virginia. It inhabits mixed and deciduous woods with swamps, pools,
and slow streams. This species may be abundant on river flats, where it
hides by day beneath old logs, bark, or other surface cover. With first
warm rains of spring it migrates to woodland ponds to court and spawn.
FOODS: It eats small invertebrates.
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