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mole salamander (Ambystoma talpoideum)

Photos

Distribution Map

Distribution Map

Characteristics

This species has 10 grooves on its sides and the body is short and stout. It is deep brown above in a broad dorsal band, and lighter on the tail. There are many small dull bluish-white flecks aggregated in lichen-like patches. The lower sides are gray with light markings forming blotches. The length is up to 97 mm. The head appears disproportionately large and is wider near the the corner of the mouth. The snout is broadly rounded. Adult mole salamanders somewhat resemble Mabee's salamander; however Mabee's salamander has 13 costal grooves and a relatively smaller head. Adults migrate to water to breed in late fall or early winter and then return to land the following spring. The breeding period is early December to mid-February. The adults are terrestrial and fossorial, except during the breeding season.

Distribution

This species is known from sites in Charlotte, Campbell, and Appomattox counties. The adults are terrestrial except during the breeding season. This species is reported to use burrows in pine savannas, hardwood forests, swamps, floodplains and flatwoods with suitable breeding ponds. The single known breeding site is an abandoned, small millpond in the floodplain of a small stream. Unique habitat associations include downed logs, vernal pools and freshwater wetlands.

Foods

The diet of the adult is not known, but presumably consists of earthworms and insects.

More Information

For more information, please visit the Virginia Fish & Wildlife Information Service (direct link to species booklet).