Sy the tiger salamander is huge.
The Dickinson County Nature Center has two tiger salamander animal ambassadors, named Manny and Sy, and they are members of the largest land salamander species in North America. Tiger salamanders usually grow 7-13 inches long, but Sy is around 14 inches in length from head to tail. That's one of the neat things about tiger salamanders --- they're all a part of the same species, but they have many variations within that species.
There are a lot more fun facts about tiger salamanders too. Let's take a look at some:
Their colors vary.
Tiger salamanders are typically colored like the salamanders at the Dickinson County Nature Center, with round, yellow spots over a black background. However, there are also tiger salamanders that have vertical yellow stripes running down the body, ones with golden blotches, and I've even seen some that look more green than yellow or black. Young tiger salamanders are olive green and get their adult markings a few weeks after hatching.
Some don't grow up.
Typical tiger salamanders live in moist areas in forests, grasslands or marshes. They live underground most of their lives, and people find them under rocks and stumps or in burrows. Sometimes you can also find them in piles of mulch or they fall into window wells outside of homes.
Since they are amphibians, tiger salamanders begin as eggs laid in small pools of water, and after hatching, the larvae remain in the pond for two-five months. However, some adult tiger salamanders remain in the aquatic larval form for their entire lives instead of growing into the terrestrial version of the typical adult.
A typical tiger salamander life span is 10-16 years in the wild, perhaps because of their great ability to hide underground from predators such as badgers, snakes, bobcats and owls. Some have lived up to 25 years in captivity.
They have sensitive skin.
Check out this video for information on salamanders' permeable skin.
Populations are stable.
The tiger salamander is listed as a species of least concern, although populations have been affected in areas by deforestation, acid rain --- due to their sensitive skin, and traffic. Some people have commented that tiger salamanders are not seen as often today, but populations are still considered stable.
You can also check out a video about Sy and Manny on our Videos page or learn about more of our animal ambassadors at the links below!