Creatures & Critters: Salamander Edition

Meet Sy and Manny!

Sy and Manny are tiger salamanders. Tiger salamanders are the largest and most wide-spread salamander in North America. They like to live in deep burrows, up to two feet below the surface. They can be found in forests, grasslands, or marshy areas, near ponds, lakes, or slow-moving streams. They are one of the few salamanders that are able to survive in the arid climate of the North America interior. Because they are amphibians, tiger salamanders begin as eggs that are laid in small pools of water. After they hatch, the larvae remain in the small pool of water for up to five months. Some adult tiger salamanders will remain in the aquatic larval form for their entire lives rather than growing into the terrestrial version.

Tiger salamanders usually grow 7-13 inches long, however, Sy is actually around 14 inches long from head to tail. Tiger salamanders are thick-bodied amphibians with a large head, short, rounded  snout, sturdy legs, and long tails. They are black in color with yellow stripes, blotches, or spots. The spots and blotches vary in shape, size, and position. Young tiger salamanders are olive green and they will get their adult markings a few weeks after hatching.

Tiger salamanders are highly voracious predators, emerging from their burrows at night to feed on worms, insects, frogs, snails, small mice, and baby snakes. They are eaten by badgers, snakes, bobcats, and owls. Typically, a tiger salamander will live 10-16 years in the wild. In captivity, some have lived up to 25 years.

Be sure to say hi to Sy and Manny next time you visit the Nature Center!salamander close up