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Small-mouthed Salamander, Ambystoma texanum

A common inhabitant of lowland floodplain woodlands, the Small-mouthed Salamander spends much of its time hidden underneath logs and leaf litter or underground.

Description: Closely related to the Streamside Salamander, Small-mouthed Salamanders are usually a brownish-gray to grayish black with many small, light gray specks that sometimes merge on the sides to form a lichen-like pattern which is extremely variable in intensity. It is medium-sized (4-5 ½ inches long) with a stocky body and a small head.

Similar Species:
Identical to the Streamside Salamander, separated only by careful examination of its range and habitat.

Habitat:
The Small-mouthed Salamander is found mainly in bottomland forests associated with wetlands or floodplains. They can withstand a degree of human disturbances, such as habitat fragmentation and farming. They are also able to live in open grassland as long as there are ponds for breeding that are free of fish.

Diet:
Adult Small-mouthed Salamanders eat insects, other arthropods, slugs, worms and occasionally aquatic crustaceans.

Breeding information:
Small-mouthed Salamanders breed very early, often when conditions are still icy and cold. Explosive breeders, females can lay as many as 700 eggs a year.

Status in Tennessee:
Common in bottomland floodplain forests.

Fun Facts:
•When confronted by predators, particularly snakes, Small-mouthed Salamanders will raise and wave their tail
•Small-mouthed Salamanders spend much of their time underground, occasionally making use of crayfish and mammal burrows

Best places to see in Tennessee:
Found primarily in the western half of the state though a portion of its range extends into the Cumberland Plateau along the Kentucky border.

For more information:
Animal Diversity Web - The University of Michigan Museum of Zoology

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Sources:

Conant, R. and Collins, J. 1998. Peterson Field Guides: Reptiles and Amphibians (Eastern/Central North America). Houghton Mifflin Company, New York. 616pp.