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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

Three-Toed Amphiuma: 21 Facts You Won't Believe!

Read amazing three-toed amphiuma facts for kids.

The three-toed amphiuma (Amphiuma tridactylum) is a type of aquatic salamander endemic to the southeastern United States. They can be found in the states of Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas. They are one of the three species that belong to the Amphiuma genus. The other two are the one-toed amphiuma (Amphiuma pholeter) and the two-toed amphiuma (Amphiuma means). The average body length of adult Amphiuma tridactylum is about 18-30 in (45.7-76 cm). They have long, cylindrical, eel-like bodies. They are usually dark brown, gray, or black but their underbellies are paler than their backs. The underside of their neck is darker. They have four vestigial legs that have three toes. The young have gills, while adults use their lungs for respiration. They mature at an age of three-four years. They also have small, lidless eyes. Males are usually a little larger and heavier than females. These large salamanders prey on crayfish, fish, tadpoles, frogs, insects, and smaller amphibians and reptiles. Amphiumas are also called the Congo eel. They are often found in lakes, burrows, ponds, and swamps. Female three-toed amphiumas can lay about 50-200 eggs in a clutch.

For more relatable content, check out these tree frog facts and tiger salamander facts for kids.

Three-Toed Amphiuma Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a three-toed amphiuma?

Three-toed amphiuma is a species of aquatic salamander that is native to the southeastern United States. They are a large species of salamander belonging to the genus Amphiuma of the Amphiumidae family. The other two species in the Amphiuma genus are one-toed amphiuma (Amphiuma pholeter) and the two-toed amphiuma (Amphiuma means). They are all natives of North America.

What class of animal does a three-toed amphiuma belong to?

The three-toed amphiuma belongs to the Amphibia class of the Animalia kingdom. They belong to the Amphiumidae family.

How many three-toed amphiumas are there in the world?

The exact number of three-toed amphiumas in the world is unknown. But, their conservation status is  Least Concern in the IUCN Red List. This means their populations are safe in the wild. However, due to habitat destruction, amphibian numbers are seeing a steady decline over the years. Thankfully, populations of Amphiuma tridactylum are still stable.

Where does a three-toed amphiuma live?

Three-toed amphiumas are native to North America. They are exclusively found in the southeastern United States. The Amphiuma tridactylum can be found in the states of Tenessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas. They are also found along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico.

What is a three-toed amphiuma's habitat?

Three-toed amphiumas prefer swampy habitats. They can be found in both permanent and semi-permanent bodies of water. They are aquatic salamanders. They can be seen in lakes, ponds, ditches, swamps, streams, and even temporary pools. You can also find one of these in an abandoned crayfish burrow. The female amphiuma prefers to lay eggs in soft, wet mud.

Who does three-toed amphiuma live with?

Amphiumas are known to be mostly solitary creatures. They also hunt and feed alone. Males and females come together during the mating period and might be seen in pairs.

How long does a three-toed amphiuma live?

There is very little information available about the lifespan of wild three-toed amphiumas. But in captivity, their lifespan ranges from about 13-19 years.

How do they reproduce?

Amphiuma tridactylum is a polygynandrous species, meaning both males and females of the species have multiple partners. Their breeding season occurs from January to April. Males touch females to show interest in mating, if the females feel the same way, they also return the gesture. During aquatic mating, the male swims in circles and flaps their tail on the surface of the water, and the female also swims below them to make their cloaca touch. There have been instances of females competing for mates but males do not show any such behavior. Heavy rain stimulates their breeding process. Internal fertilization of eggs is also a feature of these amphibians. Females can store the sperm inside their bodies for up to seven months and show delayed fertilization. Females mate every two years while males mate annually. Females can lay up to 200 eggs in one clutch. They lay eggs in burrows close to the water in wet, soft mud, on fallen branches, and also under logs. The eggs are opaque and have a jelly-like consistency. They are laid in a string of pearl formation and can take up to four to five months to develop. Females tend to the eggs until they hatch.

What is their conservation status?

Amphiuma tridactylum are listed in the IUCN Red List as a Least Concern species. Their population trend is also stable. The only threat these animals seem to face is habitat destruction and water pollution, which also causes them to lose their home.

Three-Toed Amphiuma Fun Facts

What do three-toed amphiuma look like?

The three-toed amphiuma is one of the three species that belong to the Amphiuma genus. The other two are the one-toed amphiuma (Amphiuma pholeter) and the two-toed amphiuma (Amphiuma means). They are some of the largest species of aquatic salamanders on earth. These amphibians have a long and cylindrical eel or snake-like body. The average body length of adults of the species is about 18-30 in (45.7-76 cm). They have a laterally compressed tail. They have dark gray, black, or brown bodies and their underbellies have lighter coloration. They also have a dark patch on the underside of their necks. Males of the species are usually heavier than females. Males also have a wider head. These amphiumas have four vestigial legs that they only use to balance themselves while swimming. The number of toes on each foot is three, that is why this species is called the three-toed amphiuma. The larvae of amphiumas have external gills. But after three to four months of being born, they lose these gills and their lungs begin to function. The three-toed amphiuma is one of the largest species of salamanders on the planet. These amphibians have reduced eyes that have no eyelids. They also secrete a lot of mucus that makes their bodies slippery and hard to catch. These amphibians have two rows of teeth in their upper jaw, and they also have teeth in the mandibles. They are known to bite a lot.

Read more about these amazing amphibians in this article.

How cute are they?

Amphiumas are not animals that many will consider cute. Not only are they long and cylindrical, which makes them look like an eel or a snake, they are also very aggressive and tend to bite when they feel threatened.

How do they communicate?

Not much is known about the communication of this species. They seem to be generally solitary creatures. They are said to emit a high-pitched, whine-like noise when they are captured. Since they have reduced and lidless eyes, their vision is limited. They have to rely on smell to prey. They have a small home range but they can travel during the breeding season to mate. They can move on both land and water but prefers the aquatic habitat. These amphibians also attract mates through chemical cues and physical touch.

How big is a three-toed amphiuma?

The average length of the adults of the species is about 18-30 in (45.7-76 cm). Males of the species are slightly larger than females. The species is one of the largest species of salamanders. They are larger than the one-toed amphiuma (Amphiuma pholeter). They are similar to the size of the two-toed amphiuma (Amphiuma means).

How fast can a three-toed amphiuma run?

Even though they have four visible legs, three-toed amphiumas do not move using them. Their legs are so small that they cannot be used to walk. Instead, they use them to balance themselves in the water. They are pretty fast swimmers and they are also very hard to catch because of their slippery bodies and thrashing tendency.

How much does a three-toed amphiuma weigh?

The average weight of adult three-toed amphiumas is about 14-18 oz (400-510 g). Males are usually heavier than females. Males also have longer heads than females.

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names for the males and females of the species. They are simply called male and female three-toed amphiumas.

What would you call a baby three-toed amphiuma?

Baby amphiumas do not have specific names. So, the young of this species is simply called baby three-toed amphiuma.

What do they eat?

Three-toed amphiumas are carnivorous animals. Their main diet consists of crayfish. But they are also known to prey on fish, tadpoles, frogs, insects, snails, and other smaller reptiles and amphibians as well. They have also shown cannibalistic behavior on some occasions. The Amphiuma tridactylum is an ambush predator that waits for its prey to come within striking distance. Sometimes they also stalk their prey. After grabbing the prey, they bite and thrash their body in a manner typical to the Crocodylidae family. These animals are nocturnal and hunt during the night.

Are they poisonous?

No. Though they have snake-like long bodies, amphiumas are neither poisonous nor venomous. They have edible meat that tastes similar to frogs.

Would they make a good pet?

Amphiumas in general do not make for good pets. They have sharp teeth and a very bad temper. Salamanders of all kinds need very special and dedicated care if you want to keep them. So it is best to not keep them as pets. They should be kept captive under professional supervision. Not only because they need specialized care but because they can be temperamental and dangerous to humans.

Did you know...

The female three-toed amphiumas can have delayed fertilization. They can store sperm inside their bodies for up to seven months.

Not only do these salamanders eat reptiles and amphibians, but they sometimes also feed on their own species.

Their eel-like appearance has earned them the name of Congo eel by the locals.

Their body length makes them one of the largest salamanders in the world.

Even though they can be hard to keep, these amphibians are quite popular in the pet trade.

How many teeth do three-toed amphiuma have?

The three-toed amphiuma has two sets of teeth on their upper jaw. These animals also have teeth on their mandibles. The total number of teeth is approximately 88. But the number can change based on the individual. Their teeth are sharp and help them hunt prey in the water.

Do three-toed amphiuma cohabit?

Three-toed amphiumas are mostly known for being solitary creatures. They only come together in pairs while mating. They are found in lakes, ponds, ditches, swamps, streams, and even temporary pools that they might share with other aquatic creatures but mostly they live a solitary life.

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 spotted salamander facts and marine toad facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable three-toed amphiuma coloring pages.

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