Click on pictures to enlarge

Tiger Salamander

(Ambystoma tigrinum)


Identification: Skin smooth, moist, sometimes sticky; tail long; four toes on each front foot; maximum total length about 35 cm (less than 14 inches). Color pattern ranges from black with yellowish bars or spots to pale or dark with dark spots or mottling. Adults stocky, with 11-14 grooves on each side of body; head broad, eyes small; small bumps on bottom of feet.  

Mature male: large dark papillae at rear end of vent during breeding season; tail relatively long.

Larvae: Initially lack legs; front legs develop first, and hind legs develop after larvae are about 1 inch long; large larvae have three conspicuous pairs of gills and four gill slits on each side of neck; tail fin extends forward to about shoulder region; variable coloration.  

Eggs: Attached singly or in short rows or small clusters to submerged plants or other objects.

Colorado Distribution: Statewide, from high mountains to lowest river valleys. Common.   

View the distribution of observed Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum) on a map

Habitat: Breeds in lakes, reservoirs, ponds, and pools. When on land, usually in rodent burrows; most active on ground surface at night during damp weather.    

Life History: Breeds in spring or summer. Newly metamorphosed salamanders may leave breeding sites in late summer or early fall. Gilled larvae may become sexually mature and breed without ever leaving their pond.    

Note: Some herpetologists refer to this salamander as the Barred Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma mavortium).

Revised: July 24, 2003