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eastern lesser siren

(Siren intermedia intermedia)


This is a large, eel-like, salamander that has no back legs. It grows to lengths of about 5-15 in. (13-38 cm). The head is long and widens just above the gills. The eyes are small and without lids. There are four toes on each front leg. The color varies from black to olive-green. Many rounded black spots are scattered over the back and sides of the head, trunk, and tail. The belly is darker than the back. Whitish spots may occur along the sides of the body.


This species inhabits the Coastal Plain region of Virginia. It prefers quiet, weed-choked waters of swamps, ditches, and ponds. It is found in cypress and pine woods and ditches, where they hide by day beneath bottom vegetation and stranded logs.


The lesser siren eats crayfish, worms and molluscs. It may also take in large quantities of aquatic vegetation while eating other things.