Eastern tiger salamanders can be found, appropriately enough, in the east. Aside from a handful of states in which they’re noticeably absent (NY, VA, PA, WV, MA, CT, RI, VT, NH, MN, NB, LA, AK, MI ) this species lives in thick profusion across what basically amounts to North America’s entire eastern seaboard. They are more populous in some states than others, though, likely due to human disturbance.
As a rule, tiger salamanders prefer forested areas with running fresh water and thick, moist soil. Their larval forms, being entirely aquatic, grow and develop in ponds, streams and roadside ditches – anywhere likely to have a fresh water supply. As adults, they’re fossorial, spending most of their lives in burrows that can reach as deep as two feet underground.
A ‘mole’ species, this particular amphibian is identified chiefly by its size and coloring. Adults are dark-skinned and striped with the (yellow or olive) bars that give the species its name. Usually 6 to 8 inches long, they have broad heads, bulging eyes, and 4 legs with 5 toes on each foot.
Larvae and juveniles are tiny, almost transparent, and legless. They have external gills in the form of long, feathery plumes that extract oxygen from the water.
Learn more with Schechter Natural History's Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians