Fun Small-mouth Salamander Facts For Kids

Ritwik Bhuyan
Jan 19, 2023 By Ritwik Bhuyan
Originally Published on Aug 27, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi
Small-mouth salamander facts are about this species commonly seen in central US.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.5 Min

 The small-mouthed salamander (Ambystoma texanum) is a mole salamander in the family Ambystomatidae. The species is known by many names such as the Texas salamander, porphyry salamander, and the narrow-mouthed salamander.

This small-mouthed salamander is mainly found in lowland floodplain woodlands where the species spends most of the time under logs, leaf litter, and underground. The species grows to a length of 7 in (17.7 cm) and has a small head and snout when compared to other species of salamanders.

The description of this species includes the presence of 14-16 costal grooves and a brownish-gray or dark grayish-black body with light gray speckles, mainly on the lower side of the body.

Not much information is available on the life cycle of this species. In the natural wild habitat, these salamanders are found mostly hiding in small mammal burrows throughout the year, except during the breeding season.

Small-mouthed salamanders breed early in the year in the spring season and the female lays a range of up to 700 eggs in breeding ponds in the wild natural habitat. Adult small-mouthed salamanders migrate to breeding ponds that are free of fish after a few days of rain in the winter season.

This is when ice covers the majority of the ponds. These amphibians stay very close to the breeding ponds in summer and late winter and this is only restricted to these small-mouthed salamanders.

The small-mouth salamander diet consists of insects, arthropods, aquatic crustaceans, and worms. These amphibians can be considered predators of small invertebrates. However, they are also preyed on by many small to medium-sized amphibians and reptiles like snakes, birds, and many other species of salamanders. The larvae are also preyed upon by larvae of other animal species.

For more relatable content, check out these spotted salamander facts and yellow-spotted salamander facts.

Small-Mouth Salamander Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a small-mouth salamander?

The small-mouthed salamander is a species of salamander, specifically the mole salamander, found mostly in south-central United States.

What class of animal does a small-mouth salamander belong to?

Terrestrial small-mouthed salamanders (Ambystoma texanum) fall under the class of Amphibia in the kingdom of Animalia.

The small-mouth salamander, family Ambystomatidae, consists of salamanders of the order Caudata. Mole salamanders are the only creatures in the genus Ambystoma.

How many small-mouth salamanders are there in the world?

The total population size of small-mouthed salamanders is not known, however, it is estimated that the population exceeds 100,000. The population is quite stable at the moment.

The area of occurrence is spread across 536,295.8 sq mi (1,389,000 sq km) in their natural habitats. The Indiana small-mouth salamander population and the southern Ohio population are separated along the Ohio River. The small-mouth salamander Illinois population is found in two-thirds of the southern part of the region.

Where does a small-mouth salamander live?

The distribution of small-mouthed salamanders is found in the central USA from the coast of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, western Alabama, north to eastern Nebraska, Illinois, southern Iowa, Indiana, southern Michigan, and Ohio. In Canada, this species is seen living their life cycle on Pelee Island in Ontario. However, they are marked as endangered in this region.

Missouri comprises many species of amphibians and reptiles. Amphibians like salamanders, toads, and frogs are abundant in the state of Missouri.

The small-mouth salamander Iowa natural habitats are situated in the southern three tiers of counties in the western part of the area. The range can be extended to the north as far as Johnson County in the east.

What is a small-mouth salamander's habitat?

The small-mouth salamander habitat includes lowland forests in the natural wildlife. They are also found in a range of open habitats like prairies.

Apart from breeding ponds, small-mouthed salamanders are also found breeding in forest ponds, flooded areas, runoff ponds, river backwaters, and roadside ditches. They are not known to live far from breeding ponds so they only have to travel short distances to the ponds in the breeding season.

The Ohio small-mouth salamander distribution is widespread in forested floodplains, swamp forest areas, and deciduous forest areas. The species is known for breeding in vernal pools in the region and they spend the rest of the time hiding in underground crayfish and small mammal burrows, under rotting logs and leaf litter.

The breeding ponds, however, need to be free of fish.

Who do small-mouth salamanders live with?

They live a secretive life in an underground habitat. They usually do not come out except during the breeding season and stay hidden in burrows made by other animals. They probably live a solitary life or may live in groups. They are only seen in a pair during mating.

How long does a small-mouth salamander live?

The life span of the small-mouth salamander is not known. Some salamander species can live up to 55 years of age.

How do they reproduce?

small-mouthed salamanders breed in the early spring season. Outside the breeding season in summer and late winter, they are found living in animal burrows near breeding ponds.

The breeding season is from the third week of February to the fourth week of March. Courting is done by the males nudging and bumping females. They leave the group and deposit sperms on a leaf or stick or in the bottom of the pond.

Females then collect the sperm packages. Females produce around 300-700 eggs in a season, but these clusters are placed in small, loose gelatinous masses of 3-30 eggs. The eggs are known to hatch in three to eight weeks.

The larvae turn into terrestrial small-mouthed salamanders in two or three months after hatching and they reach sexual maturity in two years. After the females deposit the eggs in the pond, the parental care ends there.

The breeding pool should be free of fish.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of small-mouthed salamanders (Ambystoma texanum) is categorized as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List. The area of occurrence is quite large along with a wide range of habitats all over the world.

The distribution range of places is also quite large. The United States is full of amphibians and reptiles and small-mouthed salamanders are abundant in the region. They are also preyed upon by many species of small and medium-sized reptiles and other animals.

Small-mouthed salamanders are however considered endangered under the Ontario Endangered Species Act, 2007. They are suffering from habitat loss in the range.

Small-Mouth Salamander Fun Facts

What do small-mouth salamanders look like?

The short-mouthed salamander as the name suggests has a small head with a short and blunt snout. The head looks swollen behind the eyes and the lower jaw protrudes very little beyond the upper jaw. The coloration on the adults is brownish-gray to grayish-black.

Light blotches are seen on the back of the adults which become darker on the sides and extends to the dark belly. During the mating season, the body becomes paler and light markings are more visible. They have 14-16 coastal grooves.

Males are usually smaller than females with a compressed and longer tail. The larvae have an olive green or dark brown body with light bars or crossbands.

Fun Small-Mouth Salamander Facts For Kids

How cute are they?

People usually do not consider salamanders as cute. People fear them mostly. However, if we dare to look closely, they are magnificent beasts to be adored.

How do they communicate?

Salamanders communicate tactically and chemically.

How big is a small-mouth salamander?

The length of the small-mouth salamander is between 4.5-7 in (11.4-17.7 cm). Most salamanders are around 6 in (15.2 cm) in length.

How fast can a small-mouth salamander move?

The speed is not known. Salamanders are usually known to move very slowly unless in danger.

How much does a small-mouth salamander weigh?

The weight of a small-mouth salamander is not known.

What are the male and female names of the species?

Male and female small-mouth salamanders are not given different names.

What would you call a baby small-mouth salamander?

Babies are called larvae at first. At the larval stage, young salamanders are called efts.

What do they eat?

The small-mouthed salamander ( Ambystoma texanum) chooses insects, slugs, worms, arthropods, spiders, and aquatic crustaceans as food. The species is a terrestrial carnivore. The larvae eat mostly food like small, aquatic invertebrates like Daphnia, young pillbugs, and also larvae of their own and other salamanders.

These salamanders are preyed on by reptiles, animals, and amphibians.

Are they poisonous?

There is no information about the poisonous nature of small-mouthed salamanders. Some salamanders are known to release poisonous fluids from the glands in their necks and tails. This helps in deterring predators.

Would they make a good pet?

There is no information on keeping small-mouth salamander as pets.

Did you know...

Predators of the small-mouthed salamander include blue jays, water snakes, and garter snakes. The larvae of tiger salamanders and dragonflies often prey on the larvae of the small-mouthed salamander.

The mole vs small-mouth salamander has no comparison as the small-mouth salamander is actually a species of mole salamanders. The members of the genus Ambystoma are called mole salamanders.

Species like tiger salamander, Jefferson salamander, and spotted salamander are part of the same genus Ambystoma.

When do small-mouth salamanders breed and what is special about their eggs?

They breed in early spring. The clutch size is 300-700 that are deposited in small, loose masses of three to 30 eggs each in the breeding pond.

Why is the small-mouth salamander important?

The small-mouthed salamander is an important part of healthy woodland and grassland communities. The species help keep the number of pests down in the region by feeding on slugs and worms.

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 spring salamander facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable salamander coloring pages.

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Written by Ritwik Bhuyan

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English

Ritwik Bhuyan picture

Ritwik BhuyanBachelor of Arts specializing in English

A skilled content writer, Ritwik holds a Bachelor's degree in English from Delhi University. He has refined his writing abilities through his past experience at PenVelope and his current role at Kidadl. In addition to his proficiency in writing, Ritwik has pursued his passion for flying by achieving CPL training and becoming a licensed commercial pilot. This diverse skill set highlights his commitment to exploring multiple fields. Ritwik's experience in the aviation industry has provided him with a unique perspective and attention to detail, which he brings to his writing.

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Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi

Postgraduate Diploma in Management

Sakshi Raturi picture

Sakshi RaturiPostgraduate Diploma in Management

Sakshi has experience in marketing strategy, social media planning, and recruiting industry experts for capstone projects, she has displayed a commitment to enhancing their skills and knowledge. She has won multiple awards, including a Certificate of Appreciation for Creative Writing and a Certificate of Merit for Immaculate Turut, and is always seeking new opportunities to grow and develop.

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