Eastern Tiger Salamander

Ambystomatidae (mole salamanders) in the order Caudata

A dark, medium to large salamander with yellow or olive blotches over the head, body and tail. The ground color is black or dark brown. The large spots or blotches vary greatly in size and shape; blotch color ranges from bright yellow to dull olive-brown. The belly is dark gray or black with yellow mottling. Males usually have longer tails than females, and during breeding season they have a swollen cloaca.

Length: 7–8¼ inches.
Habitat and conservation: 
These salamanders live in a wide variety of habitats including woodlands, swamps, prairies and old fields (near farm ponds) and may sometimes be found in wells, basements and root cellars. They spend most of their time in burrows or under logs. These animals need fishless water holes, ponds and swamps to survive, and you can help them by developing and maintaining these features on your property.
Prey includes any animal small enough for them to swallow. Common foods include earthworms, insects, spiders, slugs and snails.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Presumed statewide; more common in the northern half of the state than in the Ozarks.
Common, though populations are declining overall when compared to historical levels. A Species of Conservation Concern.
Life cycle: 
Days are spent in burrows or under logs, as these salamanders are active only at night. During autumn rains individuals migrate to fishless ponds where breeding will take place. Courtship and egg-laying occur in the water between February and April. Each female may lay up to 1,000 eggs deposited in small clumps of 18 to 110 eggs. Eggs hatch in a few weeks. The aquatic, gilled larvae develop throughout summer and transform to land-dwelling adults in late summer.
Human connections: 
These nifty amphibians, though seldom seen, reward their viewers with their striking yellow or olive and black patterns. They are part of the amazing wild heritage of Missouri.
Ecosystem connections: 
Numerous animals prey on tiger salamanders, their eggs and larval forms, including predaceous diving beetles, fish, herons and loggerhead shrikes. The salamanders themselves prey on a host of invertebrates ranging from snails and slugs to insects and spiders.