Adult Tiger Salamander from Michigan

adult tiger salamander, Ambystoma tigrinum

adult tiger salamander, Ambystoma tigrinum

An adult tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum) observed in Livingston County, Michigan. Tiger salamanders have complex life cycles. Adult tiger salamanders mate in the water, where females lay eggs. These eggs hatch into aquatic larvae. The larvae typically metamorphose in a few months, losing their gills and altering their body to spend most of the rest of their lives on land. However, under some conditions, some tiger salamanders remain in the water, retain their gills, and become sexually mature paedomorphic adults. Sometimes environmental perturbations can affect the development of amphibians like the tiger salamander, leading to various deformities.

Tiger salamanders that have metamorphosed and left their ponds are fossorial, spending much of their time underground. However, early spring rains will cause the adults to leave their underground retreats and migrate over the surface to ponds for breeding. This is a risky time for tiger salamanders, and can expose them to predators. Once in the ponds, adult tiger salamanders use a complex combination of tactile and chemical cues to find and select mates. During the early spring days of the tiger salamander breeding season, other amphibians are breeding too, including Wood Frogs, Spring Peepers, Western Chorus Frogs, Spotted Salamanders, and Blue-Spotted Salamanders.

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All text and photographs Michael F. Benard
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Some more pages on herps and natural history:
Inside a wasp nest. Snake Image Gallery Spotted Salamander Button
Snake Image Gallery Salamander Image Gallery Water Bug Eating Frog Button
Water bug with limpet snails Snake eats frog Redback Salamander Mother with Eggs