The common mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus) is a medium sized aquatic salamander found in clear lakes and streams of the Tennessee River drainage in Virginia. Mudpuppies have large flat heads, and a short, paddle-like tail used for swimming. Coloration can range from a rusty brown or gray, to being nearly black with a scattering of dark blotches. Adults can reach a size of up to 10 inches.
Mudpuppies will take between 4 to 6 years to mature. During the late spring, females lay a mass of 50 to 100 gelatinous eggs underneath large rocks. Unlike most other salamanders, mudpuppies will retain their juvenile feathery external gills as adults and never metamorphose into terrestrial adults. The gills are a rich burgundy color, and are used to breathe underwater like fish. They also have the advantage of having lungs, and are able to draw oxygen directly by gulping air.
Presently, mudpuppies are not federally protected, but are under constant threat from pollution and other human disturbances such as fishing, when they are frequently discarded on land. The mudpuppy is not commonly kept as a pet but is sometimes used by the scientific community for experimentation. A remarkable fact about salamanders is their ability to regenerate portions of their tail, and even entire limbs if they have been damaged or lost!
Common Mudpuppy information from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries