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Amphiuma tridactylum

The Three-toed Amphiuma (Amphiuma tridactylum) is a species of aquatic salamander native to the southeastern United States.

Description

The three-toed amphiuma looks rather eel-like, with an elongate, dark grey-black, or brown colored body, and tiny vestigial legs. They are capable of growing to lengths of 41 inches (1 m). They have small, lidless eyes, and gill slits. They have four tiny legs each with three toes and an average of 62 coastal grooves.

Distribution

The three-toed amphiuma is found in the United States, along the Gulf of Mexico states, from Alabama to Texas, and north to Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky. Often is found in bottomland marshes and lakes, bayous, cypress sloughs, and streams in hilly regions. Frequently occupies crayfish burrows.

Behavior

Amphiuma are nocturnal carnivores. They spend most of the time hiding in heavily vegetated areas of permanent bodies of slow moving water, such as swamps, ponds and lakes. They feed on earthworms, fish, crustaceans, and other small invertebrates. Like other amphiumas they are often caught by fishermen who detest them as a nuisance because of their diet that includes just about everything that swims. They mate from December to June then nest from April to October. Unlike other amphiumas they fertilize internally. About 200 eggs are laid in a single strand that becomes tangled in cavity. They rarely leave the water except after a heavy rainstorm.

References

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

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