Midland Mud Salamander, Pseudotriton montanus
The Midland Mud salamander occurs throughout middle and eastern TN, excluding the higher elevations. Four subspecies recognized; only Midland Mud Salamander (P. m. diastictus) occurs in TN.
Description: A large (3.0 to 7.0 inches in length), stout-bodied species with a orange-brown to reddish-brown dorsum covered with round, well-separated black spots on the back and sides. Young specimens are brightly colored, whereas older ones can develop into a chocolate color. Belly is a distinctly lighter orangish color, sometimes with dark flecking. Eyes are black or dark brown.
Similar Species: Red Salamander is usually more reddish in color with a more dense concentration of black, irregular spots on back. Also has yellow iris. Spring Salamander has a dark line from eye to nostril and a more angular snout.
Habitat: Inhabits muddy and silty areas along swamps, seeps, bogs, springs, floodplain forests, and headwater streams. Also, reported from an intermittent stream in a cedar glade in Wilson County.
Diet: Small invertebrates, especially worms; and smaller salamanders.
Breeding information: Little data exists; however breeding is known to occur in aquatic habitats during the fall. It is estimated that 70-190 eggs are laid by the female in an underground cavity. Hatching is believed to occur in late winter. Larval stage lasts from 15-30 months.
Status in Tennessee: Very hard to gauge the abundance of this secretive, subterranean species. Considered exceptionally rare in the Great Smoky Mountains.
- The Mud Salamander lives up to its name by primarily preferring muddy water habitats, whereas the similar Red Salamander prefers fresh or clear water habitats.
Best places to see in Tennessee: Along muddy areas of streams and springs in eastern half of TN.