Jefferson salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum)

Jefferson salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum)
Photo © by Dave Huth, some rights reserved. Click image for licensing information.

Jefferson salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum)
Photo © by Dave Huth, some rights reserved. Click image for licensing information.

Jefferson salamander, Elizabeth Furnace, Virginia
Photograph © Steven David Johnson (All Rights Reserved)
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Jefferson Salamander (underwater), Elizabeth Furnace, Virginia
Photograph © Steven David Johnson (All Rights Reserved)
Contact Steven David Johnson for image licensing

Jefferson salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum)
Photo © by Dave Huth, some rights reserved. Click image for licensing information.

Jefferson salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum) - characteristic elongated toes
Photo © by Dave Huth, some rights reserved. Click image for licensing information.

Jefferson salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum)
Photo © by Dave Huth, some rights reserved. Click image for licensing information.

Jefferson Salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum) egg mass
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Jefferson Salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum) swimming - whitebox technique

Photo © by Dave Huth, some rights reserved. Click image for licensing information.

 


Text from Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

Characteristics
This is a fairly nondescript salamander with a slender build, a long snout, and long toes. It measures 4 to 7 inches in length. Above, they are dark brown to almost black, with pale blue flecks on the lower sides and limbs. Older adults sometimes lack the blue spots. The belly is much paler than the sides and back. Courtship behavior has shown that this species departs radically from the typical Ambystomid pattern, engaging in a type of amplexus. They naturally breed in vernal or transient pools and mating and egg-laying may be completed in a few nights to a week. The onset of breeding activity is assumed to be triggered by the first early warm spring rains or other conditions of high humidity and temperatures above freezing.

Distribution
This species is found through many areas of Northeastern North America (see map below). It inhabits mixed and deciduous woods with swamps, pools, and slow streams. This species may be abundant on river flats, where it hides by day beneath old logs, bark, or other surface cover. With first warm rains of spring it migrates to woodland ponds to court and spawn.

Foods
It eats small invertebrates.

Description from the U. S. Geological Survey
Extremely long toes and a relatively pointed snout are what set the Jefferson Salamander apart from other salamanders. Their general coloration is a shade of dark gray or brown to black on their dorsal surface. The belly is clearly lighter than the sides. Small bluish spots may be seen, but many individuals are usually devoid of any spots.

The Jefferson Salamander is known to hybridize with the Blue-Spotted Salamander, Ambystoma laterale in the parts of their ranges that overlap making identification in these areas difficult (compare distribution maps). Within hydrid zones check the vent – this is surrounded by black in the Blue-spotted and gray in the Jefferson.

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