California Tiger Salamander


ORDER: Caudata

FAMILY: Ambystomatidae

GENUS: Ambystoma

SPECIES: californiense

DESCRIPTION:
This salamander is a stocky built, terrestrial salamander with a broad, rounded snout. Adult males are about 8 inches long, females a little less than 7. Coloration consists of white or pale yellow spots or bars on a black background on the back and sides. The belly varies from almost uniform white or pale yellow to a variegated pattern of white or pale yellow and black. The salamander's small eyes protrude from their heads.

GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE AND HABITAT:
The California tiger salamander can be found in the Central Valley of California and its bordering foothills, coastal grasslands and seasonal wetlands. Its numbers have dropped due to habitat loss, predation from crayfish and bullfrogs, being hit by cars during migration and interbreeding with the non-native tiger salamanders.

DIET:
Carnivorous. The California tiger salamander eats earthworms, snails, insects and fish.

LIFE CYCLE/SOCIAL STRUCTURE:
During the rainy season in January and February, the California tiger salamander migrates to large vernal ponds to mate. The female lays one egg at a time and attaches it to a twig, grass stem or other underwater vegetation. The eggs are surrounded by a jelly-like substance. The larvae hatch in two to four weeks. They are a yellowish-gray and have feathery external gills and dorsal fins. They will change into salamanders in about two and a half to three months. While they larvae are small they feed on microscopic organisms. As they get larger they feed on tiny crustaceans and aquatic insect larvae. The California tiger salamander spends the summer underground in ground squirrel burrows. After the first few heavy rains in the fall, they come out of their burrows and migrate to breeding pools.

SPECIAL ADAPTATIONS:

INTERPRETIVE INFORMATION:
Adults will use the same migratory pattern year after year.

OUR ANIMALS:
The California Tiger Salamanders are part of our education animal collection and are not on exhibit.

STATUS IN WILD:
It is an endangered species in Sonoma County and Santa Barbara County and a threatened species in the rest of its range. Due to ground squirrel management/removal, salamanders are highly affected, and should be taken into account. Listed as Vulnerable by IUCN.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

  1. Environmental Conservation Online System
  2. Red List
  3. Animal Diversity

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Amphibians

Arthropods

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