Jefferson salamander

(Ambystoma jeffersonianum)


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.


This species is found in far northern and north-western 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.


It eats small invertebrates.