12 Facts About Tiger Salamanders

North America is home to several types of amphibians, and various types of salamanders. One of the most common salamanders found on the continent, the tiger salamander, is also one of the largest amphibians in North America. Keep reading to learn some more neat facts about tiger salamanders.

12 Facts About Tiger Salamanders

There are plenty of interesting fun facts about tiger salamanders, and learning more about these amphibians is a great way to find out what makes them so unique.

1. Scientific Name

The scientific name for the tiger salamander found throughout North America is Ambystoma tigrinum. The common name can vary slightly based on the region these amphibians are found in.

For example, in the eastern areas of the United States, they are often called eastern tiger salamanders. The name tiger comes from the stripped patterning that these creatures are recognized by.

In different regions, the appearance of them can also vary slightly, which contributes to the difference in common names.

2. Large Size

The tiger salamander is actually the largest land-dwelling salamander found in North America. The large size is one of the most recognizable features of these amphibians. Adults can reach from six to eight long.

3. Coloring

These amphibians can be recognized by their brownish yellow markings that resemble stripes. In some types of tiger salamanders the stripes can look more like spots. The rest of their bodies are black, brown, or gray. Some types of tiger salamanders might not have any markings at all.

4. Burrowing Habits

Even though tiger salamanders are common in North America, it can be hard to spot them in the wild because of their burrowing habits. These amphibians dig burrows and tunnels for shelter, and can get up to two feet underground.

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They are actually considered mole salamanders because of their burrowing lifestyles. Some tiger salamanders may even take over abandoned burrows left by other animals. These amphibians still need to have access to water, and will be found near ponds, streams, or lakes.

California Tiger Salamander
California Tiger Salamander (CTS) | image by California Department of Fis via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

5. Habitats

Tiger salamanders can be found living in forests and wetlands of North America. These amphibians need to be in a habitat with access to water, and soil that they can burrow deep into. They will seek out cover during dry periods. Like other types of salamanders, they can die if they dry out too much.

6. Lifespan

In the wild, the tiger salamander, with a lifespan of more than a decade, can live for an extended period. However, when kept in captivity, they have been known to exceed this lifespan. Adults of this species typically engage in mating rituals during early spring. During this time, females lay an impressive clutch of around a hundred or more eggs.

The intriguing aspect of the tiger salamander’s lifespan becomes evident as it only takes a few weeks for these eggs to hatch. The larvae remain in their home pond until they undergo the transformation into adults.

7. Predators of Tiger Salamanders

Tiger salamanders might be large amphibians, but they still have their fair share of predators to deal with. They hide from many of these predators by escaping into their burrows.

Owls, snakes, bobcats, and badgers frequently feed on tiger salamanders. These amphibians are more likely to become prey when they explore above ground after rainfall.

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8. Tiger Salamanders in Captivity

When tiger salamanders are in captivity, either in a zoo or as a pet, they can live nearly twice as long. Captive tiger salamanders have been known to reach 25 years old. These amphibians can actually make good pets for many people, but require a big time commitment.

Blotched Tiger Salamander
Blotched Tiger Salamander | image by PunkToad via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

9. What They Eat

Tiger salamanders have a wide-ranging diet due to how large they are. These amphibians thrive on many of the animals that live in their environment.

As larvae they will eat the larvae of other animals. Adult tiger salamanders are good hunters, preying on insects, slugs, worms, and snails. When kept as pets these amphibians are fed a similar diet.

10. Regenerating Limbs

Like many other types of salamanders, tiger salamanders can regenerate their limbs if they lose them. This is a helpful adaptation that allows these amphibians to escape from predators without harm. The pigmentation on regenerated limbs is usually more dull than the rest of their bodies.

11. Migrating and Mating

During the late winter and early spring is when tiger salamanders mate. Adults migrate for this purpose to get to ponds and other sources of water where they are able to mate.

They can even be seen crossing roads, especially after rainfall. Females lay numerous eggs at one time in the pond where they mate. Larvae will not leave this pond until they become adults.

tiger salamander | image by Yellowstone National Park via Flickr

12. Declining Habitats

While tiger salamanders are not considered endangered, they do face the threat of having a declining habitat. The forest and wetlands where they live have been declining in recent years.

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This is mainly due to construction and development. Tiger salamander populations are also impacted by roadways, and can be run over by cars when migrating.

The breeding ponds where they mate have also started to decline, which can lead to less tiger salamanders being born over time.

Types of Tiger Salamanders

Tiger salamanders are a species of salamanders, and this species can be broken down into various subtypes. These subtypes can have different appearances and will be found in different regions of North America.

Subtypes of these amphibians include the barred tiger salamander, eastern tiger salamander, gray tiger salamander, and blotched tiger salamander.


Tiger salamanders are one of the most interesting North American amphibians, and there are plenty of aspects that make them unique. While there are different types of tiger salamanders, these subtypes have many of the same features.

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About Jesse Martin
Enthusiast and pet owner

Jesse grew up with pet reptiles and amphibians and has remained close to them into adulthood. He has experience with boa constrictors, pythons, Argentine horned frogs, bearded dragons, geckos, tortoises, and more. Jesse's daughter currently has a corn snake, her first pet reptile.