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Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center

Farm ponds as critical habitats for native amphibians
A Field Guide to Amphibian Larvae and Eggs of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa
Field guide contents

Tiger Salamander Ambystoma tigrinum

Status: Wisconsin – Common
Minnesota – Common
Iowa – Common
Tiger Salamander
Size at hatching 13 -17 mm; at metamorphosis,
7.5 -12.5 cm, sometimes reaching 24 cm total length

field mapThe Tiger Salamander has the widest distribution of any salamander in the United States (Conant and Collins 1991). It tolerates human disturbance and survives in agricultural regions. Adults migrate to breeding ponds very early in the spring (March), as soon as ponds are free of ice at northern latitudes. Eggs are laid singly or in masses of 18–110 eggs. Tiger Salamanders use any fish-free body of water from ponds to cattle tanks. Fresh egg masses are firm (6–7 cm diameter) and older egg masses are flimsy. In older egg masses, you can identify the developing embryos as salamanders, not frogs, because they have external gills and an elongated shape. The eggs of Tiger Salamanders are large, 2–3 mm in diameter, with three gelatinous envelopes.

The digits of larval Tiger Salamanders are quite different than the other three species of mole salamanders. They are flattened and pointed from base to tip (Figure 3b). Late-stage Tiger Salamander larvae reach > 100 mm total length versus < 61 mm for the other mole salamanders.

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Page Last Modified: December 29, 2010