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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

17 Greater Siren Facts You’ll Never Forget

One of the interesting greater siren facts is that it is the largest among the Siren genus and among the largest amphibians in North America

The greater siren is one of the three members of the Siren genus from the class of amphibians and reptiles. The scientific name for greater sirens is Siren lacertina. These eel like aquatic salamanders are usually gray or olive in color, with dark spots on their body on the back, sides, and head. The lighter colored sides of these salamanders' body sometimes have greenish yellow blotches and dashes. These amphibians have three gill slits and external gills on their body. Their front limbs have four toes and the tail is compressed into a rounded tip.

Greater sirens typically inhabit aquatic environments such as vegetated swamps, ditches, and ponds. They can also be found in large lakes and streams. The habitat range of this species includes eastern and southern United States, along the Atlantic as well as the Gulf coastal plains.

Greater sirens have been given the conservation status of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.

Read on for more interesting facts about Greater sirens. For more relatable content, check out these tiger salamander facts and hellbender salamander facts for kids.

Greater Siren Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a greater siren?

Greater sirens are salamanders from the genus Siren and family Sirenidae. They are the largest among the Siren genus and among the largest amphibians in North America.

What class of animal does a greater siren belong to?

These salamanders belong to the class amphibia within the animal kingdom. The scientific name of greater sirens is Siren lacertina.  

How many greater sirens are there in the world?

There isn't an accurate estimate of the number of greater sirens in the world. The habitat range of this species includes east and south United States, along the Atlantic as well as the Gulf coastal plains. They are found most commonly in eastern Virginia, Florida southern tip, and south western Alabama. Their numbers are large enough for them to be given the conservation status of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.        

Where does a greater siren live?

The habitat range of this species includes east and south United States, along the Atlantic as well as the Gulf coastal plains. The species can be found in eastern Virginia, Florida southern tip, and south western Alabama. Disjointed populations of the greater siren salamander can also be found in the Rio Grande valley of southern Texas and northern Mexico.

Greater sirens typically inhabit aquatic environments such as vegetated swamps, ditches, and ponds. They can also be found in large lakes and streams.

What is a greater siren's habitat?

Greater sirens typically inhabit aquatic environments such as vegetated swamps, ditches, and ponds. They can also be found in large lakes and streams. During breeding season, the species migrates to shallow water to lay eggs.

While hatchlings spend their time in thick vegetation such as water hyacinth roots, they move to deeper water as they get older. The adult reptiles and amphibians of this species inhabit the bottom of pools, sunken logs, and can be found entwined in branches and roots.

Greater sirens burrow themselves into mud lake or stream beds when water bodies become dry. They enter an aestivation state in the mud when this happens so that they can avoid desiccation.  

The habitat range of these reptiles and amphibians includes east and south United States, along the Atlantic as well as the Gulf coastal plains.  

Who do greater siren live with?

Siren lacertina are solitary creatures and they rarely interact with each other. They lead secluded lives and come together for the purpose of breeding.  

How long does a greater siren live?

Not much is known about the lifespan of greater sirens in the wild, but in captivity, the lifespan of these amphibians is 25 years.  

How do they reproduce?

Breeding occurs once a year in this species, usually between February and March. Male and female greater sirens typically achieve sexual maturity by the time they reach two years of age. Not much is known about the breeding behavior of this species. Female Siren lacertina can lay anywhere between 100 and 500 eggs, either singly or in clutches. These eggs stick to each other and look like grapes. Eggs are laid in shallow water. After a gestation period of two months, the eggs hatch (in April or May). Females guard the eggs in shallow water till the time that they hatch, before returning to the deep waters themselves. No other parental protection is offered once the eggs hatch. The length of hatchlings is 0.4 in (11 mm) on average.  

What is their conservation status?

Greater sirens have been given the conservation status of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species. Agricultural and urban development have led to encroachment of their natural habitat that is threatening their species. Run off of harmful pesticides from these activities also threatens their population.            

Greater Siren Fun Facts

What do greater sirens look like?

These eel like aquatic salamanders are usually gray or olive in color, with dark spots on their body on the back, sides, and head. The lighter colored sides of these salamanders' body sometimes have greenish yellow blotches and dashes. These amphibians have three gill slits and external gills on their body. Their front limbs have four toes and the tail is compressed into a rounded tip. They have no hind limbs and their rounded head has a small eye on either side.

The average length of a greater siren is in the range of 7.1-38.2 in (18-97 cm) and their average weight is 1.9-35.3 oz (55-1,000 g). The length of hatchlings is 0.4 in (11 mm) on average. Hatchlings have stripes that fade by the time these salamanders turn one year old. Hatchlings are also brighter, with yellow or red triangular markings on their snout.    

These slimy salamanders have an eel-like appearance.

How cute are they?

These salamanders with eel like skin don't exactly qualify for the description of cute.

How do they communicate?

These amphibians use their auxilliary olfactory organ for detection of prey. They may also be able to sense environmental vibrations with the help of their lateral line. They also have dense arrays of neuromasts on their head that helps them to pick up disturbances in electrical fields. Their sense of vision is secondary due to their small eyes and the high water turbidity in the areas that they inhabit.

They also produce several sounds to intimidate predators like mud snakes and alligators. These sounds include croaking, hissing, duck sounds, and even yelps like the ones made by green tree frogs. Their muscular tail also helps them make quick getaways. They can also give their predators a painful bite to keep them away and protect themselves.  

How big is a greater siren?

The average length of a greater siren is in the range of 7.1-38.2 in (18-97 cm). They are nearly the twice the size of spring salamander.

How fast can a greater siren move?

Information on this is not available.

How much does a greater siren weigh?

The average weight of greater sirens is in the range of 1.9-35.3 oz (55-1,000 g). They are bigger than spotted salamander.

What are the male and female names of the species?

Male and female greater sirens are just called greater siren. There are no separate names based on sex.

What would you call a baby greater siren?

A baby greater siren is called a hatchling.

What do they eat?

The main diet of greater sirens comprises aquatic invertebrates, mollusks, crustaceans, spiders, bivalves, insect larvae, gastropods, small fish, crayfish, and aquatic plants like algae. While the sirens of myth are dangerous, these greater sirens do not eat humans.

Are they poisonous?

No, greater sirens are not poisonous but are capable of leaving predators with a painful bite.

Would they make a good pet?

Yes, these amphibians make good pets provided the right environment and diet of small fish is maintained for their needs.

Did you know...

The two other members of the Siren genus are: lesser siren (Siren intermedia) and reticulated siren (Siren reticulata). Greater and lesser sirens differ in length and by how many costal grooves they have on the body. Lesser sirens can grow to be 20 in (50.8 cm) long. While greater sirens have 36-40 costal grooves, lesser sirens have 31-35 costal grooves. Lesser sirens are also more slender with sharper tails when compared to greater sirens.

Unique features of the greater siren

These creatures are nocturnal, seeking refuge at the bottom of water bodies during the day and becoming active at night. The amphibians can breathe underwater with the help of their gills. They also gulp air from the water surface and have lungs to assist their breathing. Their epidermis aids in gas exchange.  

Greater sirens and humans

Greater sirens can be kept as exotic pets, with prices varying depending on where you buy them from and how much you spend on providing them the right habitat and diet. They do not eat humans and are best housed in a 100 gal (4.5 L) aquarium that is secured using cage clamps. You will also need a substrate like aquarium gravel because they are used to burrow in the mud. Giving them enough hiding spots is necessary, along with a careful consideration of their diet.  

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these Chinese giant salamander facts and red-eyed tree frog facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our Greater sirens coloring pages.

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