Salamanders at Maymont

Natural History

The marbled salamander (Ambystoma opacum), is often called the banded salamander due to its white or gray bands on its body. Mature marbled salamanders will only reach 3.5 to 4 inches in length, making it a smaller species. This amphibian is found in the piedmont and coastal plain regions of Virginia. It is also found throughout most of the eastern United States. Adults live in damp woodlands, close to ponds or streams. Worms, slugs, insects and even snails make up the carnivorous diet of this salamander. The marbled salamander larvae are major predators in ponds, as it is often the first salamander species to hatch.

Most salamanders only reach 6 to 8 inches in their 12- to 14-year life span in the wild, but the eastern tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum) can reach grow up to 14 inches. The eastern tiger salamander’s name comes from the bright yellow tiger stripes on their bodies. These salamanders vary in color and those stripes may appear as blotches on some or be non-existent in others.

Eastern tiger salamanders live throughout most of the United States, with two sites in Virginia; one in Mathews County and one in Augusta County. Adult salamanders live on land in deep burrows near ponds, lakes, wetlands, and streams. They are nocturnal carnivores eating insects, worms, and small fish. This species has been endangered in Virginia since 1984. This is due to breeding sites are being destroyed due to deforestation and pollution of the water.

Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens (newt), Amphiuma means (amphiuma)


Salamandridae (newt), Amphiumidae (amphiuma)

Red-spotted newt: insects, snails. Amphiuma: insects, amphibians, reptiles

Red-spotted newt: 2-5 in. Amphiuma: 14.5-30 in.

Forests and wetlands of the eastern U.S.

Fun Facts

  • Generally, salamanders spend most of their time hiding the dark, damp places.
  • Eastern tiger salamanders are the most wide-ranging salamander in North America.
  • The eastern tiger salamander is the largest land-dwelling salamander on Earth.
  • What is a newt and what is a salamander? Simply put, a newt is just a specific kind of salamander in the family Salamandridae.
  • Eastern newts have a three-stage life cycle. They begin life in water, live on land as a juvenile, and return to live water in adulthood.
  • Juvenile eastern newts, also known as red efts, have bright orange skin. This lets predators know they aren’t good to eat.
  • The small red spots on adult eastern newts secrete toxins, allowing them to coexist with, and not be eaten by, bigger fish.
  • Amphiumas might look like eels, and live in the water like eels, but look closely! You’ll see two tiny sets of legs with two little toes on the end of each leg, hence the name of the Two-Toed Amphiuma.
  • Two-Toed Amphiumas are the longest salamander species in the United States. The record for the longest Two-Toed Amphiuma in the world was a whopping 45.8 inches in length!
  • Generally, salamanders live an average of 20 years.
  • Some of the most common salamanders of Virginia are northern dusky salamanders, southern two-lined salamanders, red-spotted newts, eastern red-backed salamanders, slimy salamanders, northern red salamanders, marbled salamanders, and spotted salamanders.

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Did you know it takes $500,000 each year to feed and care for the animals at Maymont? Your support of the Maymont Adopt an Animal Program helps provide food, care and enrichment to keep the rescued animals active, healthy and engaged.