Eastern Tiger SalamanderWisconsin Status: common
length: 7-11 inches
This salamander is the world's-largest land-dwelling salamander. Small critters look out! They're voracious eaters, quite like the tiger (mammal), except their prey is earthworms, small mice, and other amphibians. Grasshoppers, moths, flies, spiders, beetles, and cicadas beware, the tiger is out to eat you too. Fortunately these salamanders with a big appetite help keep bug populations under control and out of our hair!The tiger is somewhat of a chameleon, its colors and pattern can change throughout its lifecycle. The young are definitely spotted and as they age the spots turn to bars (like the tiger cat) or irregular blotches. Adults have a dark brown or dark green coloration with spots, bars, or irregular blotches that can be dark brown to yellow-green or yellow-gold. Tigers range anywhere from 6" to slightly larger than one foot long. They are stout salamanders with small eyes and a large broad head. They don't just hang out in wet areas though. They burrow under leaf litter or underground in burrows of crayfish or mammals. They live in prairie ponds, marshes, lakes, woodland ponds, and even farm ponds in central to southeastern Wisconsin. A few have been found in the northwest part of the state near Polk County. Don't be surprised to find them in your window-wells and other artificial tunnels like sewers or water lines at home. Urbanization and agriculture have actually improved living conditions for this salamander and large numbers can be found in the city and where farming is intense.
Yield, Salamander Crossing...
Watch out in early March to mid-April after the ground thaws and the weather warms. Salamanders are on the move during the first warm, hard, and long nighttime rain. Tiger salamanders usually crawl across roadways and fields in groups when they're ready to breed, heading for the nearest breeding pond. This can cause hazardous road conditions for drivers. Once they get to the breeding place safe and sound, they find a mate and deposit and fertilize a loose globular mass of eggs near the bottom of the pond, secured to a plant. The adults crawl away, back to their land-dwelling homes and leave the young on their own. In only 3-4 weeks, the larvae hatch and grow and slowly lose their tail fin. The young grow larger than the adults by August. They stay near the same pond until an evening brings warm and hard rainfall. The young instinctively know to migrate and can be seen with groups of adults as they all look for good over-wintering spots on dry land.