Small-Mouthed Salamander

Ambystoma texanum

small-mouthed_salamander_12-4-14.jpg

Photo of a small-mouthed salamander.
The small-mouthed salamander is a medium-sized, black or dark brown salamander with a small head and mouth.
MDC Staff
Family

Ambystomatidae (mole salamanders) in the order Caudata (salamanders)

Description

A medium-sized, black or dark brown salamander with a small head and mouth. The body, limbs, and tail may be mottled with small, irregular flecks of tan, grayish yellow, or gray. The belly is usually black, but small flecks may be present. There are 14 or 15 costal grooves (vertical grooves on the sides of the body).

Size

Length: 4½–5½ inches.

Small-Mouthed Salamander in Valley Park

Small-Mouthed Salamander in Valley Park
Small-Mouthed Salamander
Small-Mouthed Salamander in Valley Park
Habitat and conservation

Small-mouthed salamanders live under rocks, rotten logs, and piles of dead leaves, or in burrows in the soil. They live in a variety of habitats, including rocky hillsides, swamps, woodlands, prairies, river floodplains, and even farmlands. They sometimes live in mole burrows and crayfish burrows.

Foods

Earthworms, slugs, and insects.

image of Small-Mouthed Salamander Distribution Map
Distribution in Missouri

Found throughout Missouri except for most of the Ozark Plateau.

Life cycle

Breeding occurs from late February to early April. Large numbers may congregate at a suitable breeding pond, slough, or flooded ditch. Eggs are laid in clumps in still water, on submerged leaves or twigs. Each female may deposit from 300 to more than 800 eggs. The eggs may take several weeks to hatch into gilled, pond-type larvae.

Human connections

For most of us, finding a salamander is not an everyday occurrence. When we see an unusual animal, we tend to take pictures of it, post them on our social media pages, and try to find it in a field guide. There is an inherent pleasure in learning about the natural world.

Ecosystem connections

As predators, small-mouthed salamanders help to limit populations of worms, slugs, and insects. As prey, they and their eggs and young feed a variety of snakes, mammals, and other creatures. Mole salamanders benefit from moles and other animals that dig burrows the salamanders later occupy.