Tiger salamander

One look at the “tiger stripes” on this salamander, and you’ll see where it got its name

Domenico Kumme

Tiger salamander


One look at the “tiger stripes” on this salamander, and you’ll see where it got its name


Known for its distinctive appearance and widespread distribution across the United States, southern Canada, and eastern Mexico. They are found in a variety of habitats, including forests, grasslands, and deserts. Tiger salamanders are typically black or brown with yellow or orange spots, and they have a distinctive “tiger-like” pattern on their backs.

Characterized by their thick bodies, small snouts, strong legs, and long tails, tiger salamanders exhibit a robust and well-adapted physique. They are among the most commonly encountered salamanders throughout their extensive range, thriving in a variety of terrestrial environments. While their populations remain healthy across their distribution, certain threats, such as deforestation and pollution in their breeding habitats, can impact their local abundance.

Tiger salamanders are predators, and they eat a variety of invertebrates, including insects, worms, and snails. They also eat small vertebrates, such as frogs, lizards, and snakes. Tiger salamanders are nocturnal, and they spend the day hiding in burrows or under rocks. They come out at night to hunt for food.

Unlike mammals, they lack lungs and rely on their highly porous skin for gas exchange. While this adaptation enables them to breathe efficiently in their terrestrial habitats, it also renders them extremely vulnerable to environmental contaminants and pollutants. Consequently, tiger salamanders serve as “indicator species” in ecological studies, helping scientists assess the health of ecosystems. Their sensitivity to environmental changes makes them valuable bioindicators, providing insights into the overall state of the environment in which they live.


Population est.
United States

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No