Fun Mudpuppy Facts For Kids | Kidadl


Fun Mudpuppy Facts For Kids

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The mudpuppy is also called Waterdog and is an aquatic salamander, but have you ever wondered how they got their names? Well, mudpuppies make a dog-like bark sound (despite their tiny size) that sounds just like a puppy, hence the name 'waterdog'.

These amphibians have gill slits and their eyes are smaller than their head. They are rusty brown or gray with dark spots. They are also nocturnal so they are mainly active during nighttime. Despite this, in muddy water, they can be seen out and about, even during the daytime. They are carnivorous and will eat any little animal they come across. Their diet includes annelids, small fish, mollusks, earthworms, and insects. They rely on both lungs and their feathery red external gills for breathing. Their basic movement involves walking on waterbeds, but they can also swim. Predators of mudpuppies include snakes, turtles, birds, large fish, and mammals. They often have to hide under rocks and logs to escape these predators. They weigh just 0.037 lb (17 g) but their lifespan is about 11 years long! When not hiding from predators, mudpuppies use underwater holes in the waterbed as their home.

Read on to find out more about the common mudpuppy. And to find out more about other amphibians, why not read our guide to the African clawed frog or the poison frog?

Fun Mudpuppy Facts For Kids

What do they prey on?

Insects, small fish, mollusk, earthworms, crayfish, and spiders

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

18-180 eggs

How much do they weigh?

0.037 lb (17 g)

How long are they?

8-13 in (200-330 mm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Rusty brown with black, gray, and blackish-blue spots

Skin Type


What were their main threats?

Humans, Pollution, And Habitat Loss

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them?

Ponds, Streams, Lakes, Rivers, And Muddy Waters


North America









Mudpuppy Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a mudpuppy?

Mudpuppies are aquatic species of salamanders.

What class of animal does a mudpuppy belong to?

Mudpuppies are amphibians of the class Amphibia.

How many mudpuppies are there in the world?

This species is found in many parts of North America but there is no exact data about its population.

Where does a Mudpuppy live?

These aquatic salamanders have a native range that includes waterbeds in the south of Canada to the midwest of America and North Carolina. They are found at the bottom of Lake Michigan and are also found in Manitoba, Quebec, and Missouri. They are best known as Waterdogs in southern parts of their native range and as mudpuppies in northern regions.

What is a mudpuppy's habitat?

An aquatic mudpuppy habitat can be found in lakes, rivers, streams, and ponds. They also occupy logs, submerged rocks, and leaf litter.

Who do mudpuppies live with?

Mudpuppies are solitary amphibians who live on their own.

How long does a mudpuppy live?

The lifespan of aquatic mudpuppies is 11 years on average.

How do they reproduce?

Aquatic mudpuppies reach sexual maturity at four to six years of age. Their breeding season is in the fall in the wild but breeders now also breed these species in the winter. They can have more than one mate at a time. During the breeding season, females are joined by males in shallow water under rocks or logs. The male circles around the female and then deposits a spermatophore. Females take these spermatophores and store them until spring when they are ready for fertilization. In spring, the female digs a nest and cuts through the nest cavity to deposit 18 to 180 eggs from the ceiling of the nest. The female guards the nest from predators but the male leaves before the eggs are deposited. These nests are found either around logs, rocks, or debris for shelter. The eggs laid are 0.2-0.43 in (5-11 mm) in diameter and these eggs hatch in the next month or two, according to the water temperature. Larvae are hatched out of eggs and these mudpuppy babies stay close to the females as they begin their lives.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status in the majority of locations for these mudpuppies is Least Concern. However, populations of these amphibians have been listed as endangered in parts of Maryland, Iowa, and North Carolina. Even though they are overall listed as Least Concern, their numbers are declining in a few regions dues to the pollution of lakes and rivers resulting in habitat loss. They are also sometimes killed by anglers due to a misguided belief that this species hurts game fish populations. Anglers who catch mudpuppies are advised to return them to the water after gently removing their hook.

Aquatic mudpuppies face the threat of poor water quality. Toxins in water pose a threat to mudpuppy populations as they have very sensitive skin. Their populations are also killed by boat propellers, fishing nets, and dredging. So, whilst population remains a low concern for now, we must begin to make positive choices to preserve and protect the future of this species.

Mudpuppy Fun Facts

What do mudpuppies look like?

These water mudpuppies are 8-13 in (200-330 mm) long. Their head is flat, their tail is short and rudder-like, and each of their four limbs has four toes. They are gray-brown and brown with dark spots. Males and females have pretty much the same look, but two papillae are directed backward in males, and females have light-colored slit-like cloacae. Their belly is whitish-gray and has blue-black spots. Two subspecies of mudpuppies are Louisiana waterdogs (N. m. louisianensis) and the common mudpuppy (Necturus m. maculosus). Louisiana waterdogs are light yellow-brown to tan in color, with large spots or stripes on their dorsal fins, whereas the color of the Necturus m. maculosus species is rusty gray to brown. All mudpuppies have flat, long, and slim tails which helps them swim.

A Mudpuppy specimen.

How cute are they?

These amphibians are small slimy and snake-like. So, not many people think that they are cute.

How do they communicate?

Aquatic mudpuppies can detect pressure changes and water movement using their sense organs and this helps them to avoid predators. They also detect prey using their impressive sense of smell. They can also perceive light with their small eyes and they use touch and the release of chemicals to communicate during breeding.

How big is a mudpuppy?

These types of salamander species are 8-13 in (200-330 mm) long.

How fast can a mudpuppy swim?

These types of salamanders are found in fast-moving muddy water, streams, and lakes. The exact speed of mudpuppies is unknown.  

How much does a mudpuppy weigh?

These animals weigh 0.037 lb (17 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

These animals have no specific names for females and males.

What would you call a baby mudpuppy?

Baby mudpuppies are called larvae.

What do they eat?

The typical mudpuppy diet includes small fish, earthworms, spiders, insects, annelids, amphibians, and mollusks.

Are they dangerous?

Many anglers believe that these animals are poisonous and impact negatively on populations of game fish, but this is not true. They are not particularly dangerous animals.

Would they make a good pet?

Yes, mudpuppies can make a good pet. A mudpuppy as a pet needs low maintenance and is relatively easy to care for.

Did you know...

Mudpuppies have three sets of teeth. These are called the vomerine, dentary, and premaxillary sets of teeth.

The feeding style of mudpuppies is described as 'suck and gape'. They pull their prey into their mouth and use their teeth to help them hold the prey in place. This suction feeding is possible due to their interlocked lips on each side of their mouth.

Mudpuppies are one of the few salamander species that squeak. Some people believe that this squeak sounds a lot like a dog's bark, hence the names 'mudpuppies' and 'waterdogs'. This famous noise is what the species is best known for.

Mudpuppies are described as bio-indicators. They have very sensitive skin so they can act as a warning sign when the water quality is bad. This means that they are often used for education and research.

Young mudpuppies are brown and have yellow stripes.

A mudpuppy's eyesight is not very well-developed.

Mudpuppies don't have parathyroid glands. Instead, the job of regulating levels of hypercalcemia is done by the pituitary gland.

The dwarf waterdog (Necturus punctatus) is another mudpuppy species. They are around 4.5-7.5 in (11.5-19 cm) long and the habitats of these species can be found along the Atlantic coastal plain, in southeast Virginia, Alabama, Florida, and south-central Georgia.

Louisiana waterdogs are also called Red River mudpuppies as their only habitat is the Red River. These species live in north-central Louisiana, northeast Oklahoma, Arkansas, southeast Kansas, and southern Missouri.

How do a mudpuppy's gills work?

Mudpuppies retain external gills from childhood to adulthood. These are the only breathing apparatus that they can use when they are in the water. Mudpuppies have to move around to get more oxygen when underwater or to take advantage of the water current. Their gills pick up oxygen from the nearby water.

Looking after your mudpuppy

Mudpuppies in captivity can live up to 30 years which is much more than their average lifespan in the wild. Mudpuppies are solitary, so it is better to just keep one of them in a 20-gallon tank. A water filter and heater are necessary to care for a pet mudpuppy. Also, as mudpuppies like to spend a lot of time under rocks, owners should add decorations like rocks, pebbles, tree limbs, and plants to their tanks. Owners should also make sure sure that these decorations cannot be moved. It is necessary to regularly clean the tank and to feed your pet two to three times per week. Meat is a must for them, as are fish, insects, and snails.

You must be careful though, as they can bite by mistake as they take their food, so it is best to avoid feeding mudpuppies with your hand as this can be dangerous. With practice, your pet will learn to take food from your hand gently. Owners should also avoid unnecessarily handling their pet mudpuppy as the slime they form will be disturbed by excessive handling, which can make them sick. You can buy latex gloves to handle your pet to check signs of illness if required.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish including the axolotl, or the olm right here!

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Mudpuppy coloring pages.

<p>With a background in Aeronautical Engineering and practical experience in various technical areas, Arpitha is a valuable member of the Kidadl content writing team. She did her Bachelor's degree in Engineering, specializing in Aeronautical Engineering, at Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology in 2020. Arpitha has honed her skills through her work with leading companies in Bangalore, where she contributed to several noteworthy projects, including the development of high-performance aircraft using morphing technology and the analysis of crack propagation using Abaqus XFEM.</p>

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