Tiger Salamander

Ambystoma tigrinum (State Status: Extremely Rare)


Although relatively abundant in some areas of the Midwest, the tiger salamander is the rarest of the mole salamanders in Mississippi. Based on range estimates from IUCN, likely only a handful of isolated populations exist in the northern part of the state, and observations are uncommon (http://herpmapper.org/taxon/ambystoma_tigrinum). Habitat loss may be a factor in reduced range in Mississippi. These salamanders are also patchy and isolated in distribution within other Gulf Coast states. Tiger salamanders are gray, brown, or black-bodied with dull mustard-yellow blotching. Specimen may be entirely yellowish or devoid of color. Tails make up a considerable portion of the total size (see below image), and they may reach maximum sizes of over a foot in length (Petranka, 1998). These salamanders are winter/early spring breeders and make their way to various ponds and other wetlands to mate and lay eggs (Petranka, 1998). Young leave the ponds in late spring.

Eastern Tiger Salamander from a remaining population in Louisiana, © CJ Hillard

Identifying Traits

  • Dark body with mustard-yellow blotching (some individuals may have bright yellow)
  • Large body and large head
  • Long, laterally compressed tail


Various bodies of water in rural areas, forested wetlands, grassy wetlands (Powell et al., 2016)


Tiger salamanders are secretive mole salamanders and are rarely seen above ground outside of breeding seasons. They can occasionally be found under moist or rotting logs in areas they are prevalent.


Various small invertebrates, fish, amphibian larva (voracious feeders)

Tiger Salamander, Louisiana, © CJ Hillard
Tiger Salamander, Louisiana, © CJ Hillard
Tiger Salamander, Louisiana, © CJ Hillard
An adult found in an upland prairie, Black Hawk Co. (IA)
Full-grown adults can be gargantuan, such as this near 10 inch long male, Polk Co. (IA)
Adult male tiger salamander found on a rainy night in rural Iowa, Polk Co. (IA)