Eastern Tiger Salamander
The eastern tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum tigrinum) is Virginia’s largest mole salamander. Mole salamanders spend most of their life underground and are not commonly observed. As adults, they may reach a total length of 12 inches. Tiger salamanders are described as ravenous predators, consuming insects, worms, slugs, and even conspecifics.
Unlike many amphibians, tiger salamanders breed during the late winter. Adults migrate at night to breeding sites, such as vernal pools, small ponds, or other aquatic habitats. Mating occurs under water and females may lay up to 100 eggs, attaching them to twigs, leaves and other debris on the pond bottom. After the breeding season, the adults move back to land as the eggs develop. Larvae may hatch out in 3-5 weeks and remain for several months. They then undergo metamorphosis into terrestrial salamanders, between three and four inches long. The young salamanders leave the ponds at night and may not reach sexual maturity for five years.
Tiger salamanders are State Endangered in Virginia. They have only been recorded in four counties in the entire state, including York, Mathews, Hanover, and Augusta. However, there is concern that the salamanders are no longer in two of the counties due to predators and destruction of habitat. These reasons as well as fish stocking, pollution and development have contributed to the decline of tiger salamanders throughout their range.
Easter Tiger Salamander information from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries