This week on Discover Nature, seldom-seen salamanders find love in late winter.
Eastern tiger salamanders grow to seven- to eight-inches in length, with striking yellow or olive and black patterns on their moist skin.
They live in woodlands, swamps, prairies, and old fields near farm ponds. You may also occasionally find them in wells, basements, and root cellars.
In autumn, these amphibians migrate to fishless ponds and swamps, where courting and breeding will begin in mid-February.
Each female may lay up to 1,000 eggs, deposited in small clumps.
Eggs hatch in a few weeks, and aquatic, gilled larvae emerge to develop in the water through the summer. They transform into terrestrial subadults and migrate to land in late summer.
Tiger salamanders eat snails, slugs, spiders and other insects, and they become food for birds, fish, and even beetles.
They are common throughout Missouri, but their numbers are declining, and are currently considered a species of conservation concern. You can help them by providing habitat to support them on your property.
Learn more about tiger salamanders, places to see them in the wild, and how you can help them on your property with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online field guide.
Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.