LIFE: Eastern tiger salamanders are large amphibians
that are roughly 6-8 inches in length, with some
exceeding 12 inches, by adulthood. These animals are
seen with a wide range of color and patterns, spanning
from green to black, with spots, blotches, and stripes
of yellow. Their legs are short and stocky, with stout
bodies that are adept at digging through forest soils.
Once tiger salamanders reach maturity, they will travel
long distances to return to the body of water they were
born to breed. Adult male salamanders deposit
spermatophores onto the bottom of the body of water.
He then nudges potential mates towards the
spermatophore. If the female accepts, she will use the
sperm packet to fertilize her eggs, which she lays on
submerged vegetation. The eggs will then hatch into
larvae with external gills emerging from behind their
head. The larval stage varies depending on
environmental factors. Certain tiger salamander
populations can even remain in the larval stage and
become sexually mature without metamorphosing. In
captivity, tiger salamanders can reach up to 25 years of
age, while wild salamanders reach approximately 10
years of age.
HABITAT AND RANGE: The eastern salamander
can be found throughout the entire state of Iowa.
Tiger salamanders are terrestrial amphibians that tend
to burrow in moist soil. However, they are less
dependent on moist soil than other salamander
species. They enjoy loose soil to dig in, as well as
access to a standing body of water for breeding. They
can also be found in forests, meadows, prairies, and
sometimes gardens and yards.
DIET: Tiger salamanders are predators throughout
their life cycle. In the larvae stage, they eat aquatic
insects, tadpoles, small crustaceans, and even other
salamander larvae. Adult tiger salamanders are able to
eat larger prey, like insects, worms, and occasionally
small vertebrates such as frogs and mice.
CONSERVATION STATUS: 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 (Roth, 2018).
SOURCE: LeClere, J. (2020). Eastern Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum). Retrieved August 9, 2020, from http://www.herpnet.net/IowaHerpetology/amphibians/salamanders-2/eastern-tigersalamander/Roth, K. (2020, May 05). Tiger salamander fun facts. Retrieved August 9, 2020, from
Life History of Hartman Reserve’s
Hartman Reserve’s Tiger Salamanders were rescued by
two of our park rangers while digging up a storm drain
in the spring of 2018. The age and sex of these
salamanders are unknown. They are outstanding
animal ambassadors because they teach our visitors
about the natural environment and the surprisingly
unique wildlife found around Iowa.
SCIENTIFIC NAME: AMBYSTOMA TIGRINUM