Tiger Salamander

Ambystoma tigrinum (State Status: SH; presumed extirpated)


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. Tigers 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).

Adult male tiger salamander found on a rainy night in rural Iowa, Polk Co. (IA)

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)

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)