marbled salamander (Ambystoma opacum)
CHARACTERISTICS: This is a robust salamander that is a deep lust-
rous black, with brownish tinges on the underside of the head and in the
legs and toes. Above, they are marked with 4-7 silvery-gray (female) or
white (male) cross bands that are narrow dorsally and widened on the
upper sides, where they sometimes unite to enclose a series of large,
fairly regular black spots which extend along the mid-line of the trunk.
The length is 3.5 to 4.25 inches. The nest sites are composed of leaf
litter, debris, and humus. The eggs are guarded by females and hatch
after autumn rains inundate the nest sites forming temporary pools.
Terrestrial juveniles rest under logs, stones, rocks, boards, and debris
in fairly shaded situations. They are also found in runways of small
DISTRIBUTION: This salamander is found in deciduous forests of the
piedmont and coastal plain. It may be abundant in floodplain forests,
but also occurs in upland forests where appropriate breeding sites are
found. This species is found in drier situations than are suitable for most
species of Ambystoma.
FOODS: The aquatic larvae feed on macrozooplankton, insects, insect
larvae, isopods, snails, worms, and other invertebrates. Because this
salamander is often the first to hatch after the inundation of the pool,
it is a major predator on other amphibian eggs and larvae. Adults feed
on small invertebrates and often hunt at night.
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Crooked Run Valley