Ambystoma tigrinum
(Green 1825)

ăm-bĭs-tō-mă — tī-grī-nŭm

Species in Need of Information

Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.

Length in Kansas up to 10 inches. Very similar to the closely related Western Tiger Salamander in size and appearance, but with much smaller spots that seldom form elongated bars. The spots are never in any set shape, size, position, or pattern. They have a rather large head and a broad rounded snout. Their eyes are round, and their belly is usually yellowish with dark pigment encroaching along the sides.
Adults normally 180-210 mm (7-8¼ inches) in TL; largest adult specimen from Kansas is unknown; maximum length throughout range: 13 inches (Conant and Collins, 1998).

Most records were recorded from the Kansas River drainage basin east of Shawnee County. This is the rarest salamander in Kansas.

(, Museum Voucher) (, Observation) (, Literature Record)
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  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 127 Total Records 
  • 126 Museum Vouchers 
  • 1 Other Observations 
Some county occurrences indicated below may be too imprecise to map above.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences):
Allen (1); Cherokee (1); Crawford (1); Doniphan (1); Douglas (107); Jackson (1); Johnson (1); Leavenworth (1); Osage (1); Shawnee (12);

Natural History:
They live underground most of the year and dig their own burrows, unlike most other species that utilize burrows of other animals. This allows them to escape the temperature extremes on the surface and may explain why they have such a wide array of habitat types. They are seldom reported in Kansas and persist in small localized populations.
Hartman (1906) reported on three larvae that contained respectively, four, seven and two water-boatman. He discovered an adult which had consumed a ground-beetle.

Occurrence Activity:
White dates indicate there is at least a single recorded occurrence on that date. The darker blue a date is, the greater the relative number of observations for that date.
The status of this salamander is enigmatic. Most of its known localities are within the Kansas River basin; however, even there, it is uncommon. It is doubtful that landscape changes over past 50 years have had much effect on the distribution of this taxon in Kansas. It is more likely that the populations that do exist are localized, and therefore difficult to sample.
Additional survey efforts are needed to better understand the status of this salamander in Kansas. Activities such as seining small ponds, employing pitfall traps, and road cruising on rainy nights (particularly in the fall) should yield the best results.

1889 Cope, Edward D The batrachia of North America. Bulletin of the United States National Museum (34):1-525
1906 Hartman, Frank A. Food habits of Kansas lizards and batrachians. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 20():225-229
1926 Forney, Elsie A. The fauna of an artificial pond. Thesis. University of Kansas, Lawrence. 76pp.
1933 Smith, Hobart M. The Amphibians of Kansas Thesis. University of Kansas, Lawrence. 383pp.
1956 Loomis, Richard B. The chigger mites of Kansas (Acarina, Trombiculidae). University of Kansas Science Bulletin 37():1195-1443
1967 Gehlbach, Frederick R. Ambystoma tigrinum. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (52):1-4
1969 Tihen, Joseph A. Ambystoma. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (75):1-4
1977 Rundquist, Eric M. and Joseph T. Collins. The amphibians of Cherokee County, Kansas. Kansas Biological Survey, Lawrence. 12pp.
1983 Ireland, Patrick H. and Ronald Altig. Key to the gilled salamander larvae and larviform adults of Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. Southwestern Naturalist 28(3):271-274
1984 Altig, Ronald and Patrick H. Ireland. A key to salamander larvae and larviform adults of the United States and Canada. Herpetologica 40(2):212-218
1991 Fitch, Henry S. Reptiles and amphibians of the Kansas ecological reserves. Pages 71-74 in Multidisciplinary Guidebook 4. Kansas Academy of Science, Lawrence. pp.
1995 Moriarty, Emily C. and Joseph T. Collins. First known occurrence of amphibian species in Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (100):28-30
2003 Taggart, Travis W. Kansas Herpetological Society 2003 spring field trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (5):3-4
2006 Taggart, Travis W. Distribution and status of Kansas herpetofauna in need of information. State Wildlife Grant T7. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt. vii + 106pp.
2008 Taggart, Travis W. KHS 2008 spring field trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (25):2-3
2012 Rohweder, Megan R. Spatial conservation prioritization of Kansas for terrestrial vertebrates. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 151pp.
2016 Pittman, Galen L., Henry S. Fitch, and W. Dean Kettle Vertebrate animals on the Fitch Natural History Reservation (1948-2002) Kansas Biological Survey Report Number 188, Lawrence. 48pp.
Account Last Updated:
6/14/2018 1:10:02 PM

Travis W. Taggart © 2020 — Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Fort Hays State University