Greater Siren

The Greater Siren (Siren lacertina) is an eel-like amphibian. There is some debate over whether it is a true salamander. The largest of the Sirens, they can grow from 48-97 centimeters in length. They range in color from black to brown, and have a lighter grey or yellow underbelly. Younger Sirens also have a light stripe along their side, which goes away with age. They have large gills and no hind legs. The front legs, each with four toes, are so small that they can be hidden in the gills. The Greater Siren is generally carnivorous and eats annelid worms, insects, snails, and small fish, although they have also been observed to eat vegetation. They have a Lateral line sense organ for finding prey. They live from Washington D.C. to Florida. Females lay eggs between February and March, as many as to 500. The eggs hatch two months later. The method of egg fertilization is currently unknown. They are nocturnal and the adults spend the day under debris and rocks or burrowed in mud or thick vegetation. Young are often seen amid water hyacinth roots. Adults are sometimes caught at night by bait fishermen. When drought strikes the sirens aestivate in mud burrows and their bodies secrete a moisture-sealing coccoon over the body. Captive longetivity about 25 years.


  • Database entry includes a range map and a brief justification of why this species is of least concern
  • National Audubon Society Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians

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