Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.
AMPHIBIA (Amphibians) CAUDATA (Salamanders) AMBYSTOMATIDAE (Mole Salamanders)

Eastern Tiger Salamander
Ambystoma tigrinum (Green 1825)
ăm-bĭs-tō-mă — tī-grī-nŭm


Conservation Status:

State: None

Federal: None
NatureServe State: S5 - Secure
NatureServe National: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Global: G5 - Secure
CITES: None
Diagnosis:
Very similar to the closely related Western Tiger Salamander in size and appearance, but with presence of 15 to 58 (mean 30) yellow, orange, or dull olive spots or blotches on the back and sides between the front and hind limbs. The yellow spots seldom form elongated bars. The head, limbs, body, and tail are deep brown, dull black, or black, with spots, bars, or blotches of pale brownish olive, dusky yellow, yellow, or orange-yellow. Bars or blotches on the sides of the body may or may not extend onto the belly, which is black or dark gray and mottled with yellow. The chin is usually yellow. During the breeding season, females can be distinguished from males by their heavier bodies, and males have swollen cloacal lips. Females have slightly longer bodies than males, but males have proportionately longer tails than females.
Adults are normally 180-210 mm (7-8¼ inches) in total length. The largest adult specimen from Kansas is unknown. The maximum length throughout the range is 330.2 mm (13 inches) (Powell et al. 2016).

Distribution:
Most records were recorded from the Kansas River drainage basin east of Shawnee County. This is the least observably abundant salamander in Kansas.
(,   Museum Voucher) (,   Observation) (,   Literature Record) (,   iNat Record), (  Fossil)
Open icons are questionable records; Click on a marker to view details.
Full range depicted by light shaded red area. Export Google Earth (.kml)
  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 130
    Records 
  • 129
    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); Doniphan (1); Douglas (110); Johnson (1); Leavenworth (1); Osage (1); Shawnee (12); Unknown (2);

Fossil History:
Reported from the WaKeeney Local Fauna of Trego County based on thirteen truck vertebrae (MSU-VP 751) by Holman (1975). The WaKeeney Local Fauna site is considered Lower Pliocene: Middle or Late Clarendonian (13,600,000 to 10,300,000 years BP).

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.
After sufficient rains from December to March, this species seeks out a breeding site, generally permanent shallow lakes, ponds, ditches, or backwater pools along rivers in open prairie or wooded regions. According to Smith (1956), this amphibian does not appear to migrate to breeding sites like the Smallmouth Salamander. The length of the breeding season in Kansas is not known, but it probably lasts from one to three months. Courtship of the Tiger Salamander takes place in water and consists of males and females rubbing bodies with occasional 'nips' at each other. Much lashing about of bodies and tails may occur, and this "foreplay" eventually stimulates the male to swim in front of the female, who follows with her snout near his cloaca. The male deposits a spermatophore, which the female swims over and mounts with her cloaca! lips. According to Smith (1934, 1956), eggs are deposited singly or in small clumps of two or three and are attached to sticks and weed masses along the water's edge. A female can lay up to 1,000 eggs. The eggs hatch in a few weeks, and the gilled, pond type larvae may metamorphose into adults the same summer, overwinter until their second summer, or achieve sexual maturity as larvae and remain in that state their entire lives. This latter condition, called neoteny, usually occurs when terrestrial conditions are harsh and habitat for salamanders is minimal.
The Tiger Salamander is opportunistic in its feeding, preying upon any animal small enough for it to swallow. Hartman (1906) removed aquatic insects, a terrestrial insect, and mud from the stomachs of three larvae found in Kansas. He discovered an adult which had consumed a ground-beetle. Other food items reported for this species are earthworms, fishes, tadpoles, frogs, toads, other salamanders, and mice.

Occurrence Activity:
Number of Unique Obervations (=days): 27; Range: 24 Feb to 23 Nov
Remarks:
Cragin (1880) reported this species (as well as A. mavortium separately) from Manhattan, Riley County. However, these specimens were most likely A. mavortium. Cope (1889) lists specimens at USNM from (4695 from Fort Riley, Riley County; 5119, two specimens from "Kansas"; 10890 from "Kansas"; 14426 from "southern Kansas"), these are all likely A. mavortium too.
Hartman (1906) lists A. tigrinum, but gives no indication of where any of his observations are from.. Forney (1926) likely represents the first unambiguous mention of this species in Kansas having found neotenic adults in a brick-lined depression northeast of Lawrence. The earliest known specimens (KU 1024-7) were collected (collector unknown) in Douglas County in 1907
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 the 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.
Based on a captive specimen, Snider and Bowler (1992) reported a maximum longevity for this species of twenty years and six months.

Bibliography:
1880 Cragin, Francis W. A preliminary catalogue of Kansas reptiles and batrachians Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 7():112-123
Also listed the Scarlet Snake (Cemophora coccinea) [=Ophibolus doliatus var. coccineus] and Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber) [=Spelerpes ruber] from Kansas.
1889 Cope, Edward D. The batrachia of North America. Bulletin of the United States National Museum (34):1-525
1) 14 specimens of Ambystoma tigrinum (= Ambystoma mavortium) from Fort Riley, 'Kansas', and 'Southern Kansas' including one with only three phalanges on both feet.from the 'Museum of the Philadelphia Academy' (ANSP). 2) The first record of Spelerpes multiplcatus (= Eurycea tynerensis) from 'southern Kansas' and sent to Cope by Francis W. Cragin. 3) Three specimens of Bufo compactilis (= Anaxyrus speciosus) from Kansas with rudimentary cranial crests and small spots [Anaxyrus speciosus does not occur with 100 miles of Kansas currently, it is possible these specimens are young Anaxyrus woodhousii. They should be reexamined if they still exist.] 4) Lists Bufo lentiginosus americanus (= Anaxyrus americanus) from Kansas. 5) Lists Acris gryllus (= Acris blanchardi) from Kansas. 6) Includes a Chorophilus triseriatus (= Pseudacris maculata) from "Blue River, Kansas".
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.
Reported Ambystoma tigrinum, Acris blanchardi, Lithobates blairi, and Lithobates catesbeianus from a man-made well/pond structure just northeast of the junction of East 8th and Pennsylvania Street (ca. 38.969716°, -95.228627°) in northeast Lawrence. Only larvae of the putative Ambystoma tigrinum were mentioned (however larger specimens were said to have contained eggs). It is possible that the larvae were the more common Ambystoma texanum.
1933 Smith, Hobart M. The Amphibians of Kansas Thesis. University of Kansas, Lawrence. 383pp.
The first full accounting of the twenty-five species of amphibians known to occur in Kansas. Includes Ambystoma maculatum which is currently not included in the Kansas faunal list.
1934 Smith, Hobart M. The Amphibians of Kansas. American Midland Naturalist 15(4):377-527
The formal publication of Hobart Smith's Master's Thesis (Smith 1933), though there are several updated and additions. In addition to the species accounts for all twenty-five species, the paper includes a history of amphibian biology in Kansas and discussions on taxonomy and physiography. 
1936 Brumwell, Malcolm J. Distributional records of the reptilia and amphibians of Kansas. Privately printed, . 22pp.
County dot maps of the Kansas herpetofauna. This work has been attributed to have been written around 1933, but that may be in error. 
Hypsiglena jani was not known from Kansas until Claude W. Hibbard collected three specimens on the Stevenson Ranch in north-central Clark County (above Clark State Lake) during June 1936 (Hibbard, 1937). Brumwell plotted this locality, which leads me to believe that the 1936 would have been the earliest date this manuscript could have been written.
1938 Schmidt, Karl P. Herpetological evidence for the postglacial eastward extension of the steppe in North America. Ecology 19(3):396-407
1945 Lane, Henry H. A survey of the fossil vertebrates of Kansas, Part II. Amphibia. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 48(3):286-316
1950 Smith, Hobart M. Handbook of Amphibians and Reptiles of Kansas. University of Kansas, Museum of Natural History, Miscellaneous Publication (2):336
The first modern herpetology of Kansas. Includes locality dot maps within individual species accounts. Reports 96 species from Kansas (table and text say 97 on p. 10) and 13 "probable but unverified" species and subspecies.
1951 Brumwell, Malcolm J. An ecological survey of the Fort Leavenworth Military Reservation American Midland Naturalist 45(1):187-231
Published posthumously. Lieutenant Brumwell died December 14, 1941, as a result of injuries incurred during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. This paper is a condensed version of his thesis for the Master's degree.
1956 Smith, Hobart M. Handbook of Amphibians and Reptiles of Kansas. Second edition. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Miscellaneous Publication (9):1-356
Hobart M. Smith's updated second edition of his first (1950) modern herpetology of Kansas. Includes locality dot maps within individual species accounts. Reports 96 species from Kansas (table says 97 on p. 10; text says 98 on p. 10) and 11 "probable but unverified" species and subspecies. The second edition has updated taxonomy, added Plestiodon laticeps, and removed Eurycea tynerensis.
1956 Loomis, Richard B. The chigger mites of Kansas (Acarina, Trombiculidae). University of Kansas Science Bulletin 37():1195-1443
Examined 2,628 Kansas reptiles of 48 species consisting of 27 turtles of 4 species, 1,736 lizards of 12 species and 892 snakes of 32 species for chiggers. Eleven species of chiggers were recovered from reptiles.
For amphibians, 1188 individuals of 21 species were examined. Five species of chigger mite were recovered from amphibians.
1957 Brame, Arden H. A list of the world's recent caudata. Privately Published, Los Angeles, California.. 24pp.
1957 Brame, Arden H. A list of the world's Recent caudata. Privately Published, University of Southern California. 31pp.
1958 Tihen, Joseph A. Comments on the osteology and phylogeny of ambystomatid salamanders. Bulletin of the Florida State Museum, Biological Sciences 3(1):1-50
1960 Hibbard, Claude W. and Dwight W. Taylor. Two Late Pleistocene Faunas from southwestern Kansas. Contributions from the Museum of Paleontology, The University of Michigan 16(1):1-223
1967 Choate, Jerry R. Wildlife in the Wakarusa Watershed of Northeastern Kansas. Kansas Biological Survey, Lawrence. 46pp.
1967 Gehlbach, Frederick R. Ambystoma tigrinum. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (52):1-4
1967 Brame, Arden H., Jr. A list of the world's recent and fossil salamanders. Herpeton 2(1):1-26
1969 Tihen, Joseph A. Ambystoma. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (75):1-4
1971 Holman, J. Alan. Herpetofauna of the sandahl local fauna (Pleistocene: Illinoian) of Kansas. Contributions from the Museum of Paleontology, University of Michigan 23(22):349-355
1974 Collins, Joseph T. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Public Education Series (1):283 pp
Joseph T. Collins first Kansas herpetology. <Need to get species total and principal differences with previous 'version' (= Smith 1956)>
1974 Karns, Daryl, Ray E. Ashton, Jr., and Thomas Swearingen. Illustrated Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas: An Identification Manual. University of Kansas Publications Museum of Natural History Public Education Series(2):viii + 18
1975 Eshelman, Ralph E. Geology and paleontology of the early Pleistocene (late Blancan) White Rock fauna from northcentral Kansas. University of Michigan Museum of Palenontology, Papers on Paleontology. (13):60
1975 Holman, J. Alan. Herpetofauna of the WaKeeney local fauna (Lower Pliocene: Clarendionian) of Trego County, Kansas. Pages 49-66 in Studies on Cenozoic Paleontology and Stratigraphy in honor of Claude W. Hibbard. Museum of Paleontology, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan. pp.
1976 Rundquist, Eric M. Field checklist (of) amphibians and reptiles of Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society, Lawrence. pp.
1977 Rundquist, Eric M. and Joseph T. Collins. The amphibians of Cherokee County, Kansas. Kansas Biological Survey, Lawrence. 12pp.
1978 Curl, Richard L. Final Environmental Statement: Milford Lake Kansas operation and maintenance. US Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City District. 158pp.
Notable mentions: Spotted Salamander, Smooth Green Snake
1978 Collins, Joseph T. and Janalee P. Caldwell. New records of fishes, amphibians, and reptiles in Kansas for 1977. Technical Publication of the State Biological Survery of Kansas 6():70-88
1978 Brame, Arden H., Jr. II, Ronald Hochnadel, Hobart M. Smith and Rozella B. Smith. Bionumeric codes for amphibians and reptiles of the world. I. Salamanders. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 81(1):43-56
1979 Martin, Larry D. Survey of fossil vertebrates from east-central Kansas: Kansas River bank stabilization study. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City District. 55pp.
1980 Altig, Ronald and Ren Lohofener A bibliography of larval and neotenic salamander biology. Smithsonian Herpetological Information Service (47):1-53
1981 Eshelman, Ralph E. and Claude W. Hibbard. Nash Local Fauna (Pleistocene: Aftonian) of Meade County, Kansas. Contributions from the Museum of Paleontology, The University of Michigan 25(16):317-326
1982 Collins, Joseph T. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas. 2nd edition. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Public Education Series (8):
Joseph T. Collins second Kansas herpetology. <Need to get species total and principal differences with previous 'version' (= Collins 1974)>
1982 Rogers, Karel L. Herpetofaunas of the Courland Canal and Hall Ash Local Faunas (Pleistoncene: Early Kansas) of Jewell Co., Kansas. Journal of Herpetology 16(2):174-177
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 Holman, J. Alan. Herpetofaunas of the Duck Creek and Williams Local Faunas (Pleistocene: Illinoian) of Kansas. Pages 20-38 in Contributions in Quaternary Vertebrate Paleontology: A Volume in Memorial to John E. Guilday. Special Publication Number 8. Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. pp.
1984 Eshelman, Ralph and Michael Hager. Two Irvingtonian (Medial Pleistocene) vertebrate faunas from northcentral Kansas. Pages 384-404 in Contributions in Quaternary Vertebrate Paleontology: A Volume in Memorial to John E. Guilday. Special Publication Number 8 Special Publication Number 8, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. pp.
1984 Brown, Kenneth L. Pomona: A plains village variant in eastern Kansas and western Missouri. Dissertation. University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. 519pp.
1984 Secor, Stephen M. and Charles C. Carpenter. Distribution maps of Oklahoma reptiles. Oklahoma Herpetological Society Special Publication (3):1-57
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
1985 Capron, Marty B. Thunder snakes, blow vipers, and others. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (60):9-10
1985 Lynch, John D. Annotated checklist of the amphibians and reptiles of Nebraska. Transactions of the Nebraska Academy of Science 13():33-57
1986 Holman, J. Alan. Butler Spring herpetofauna of Kansas (Pleistocene: Illinoian) and its climatic significance. Journal of Herpetology 20(4):568-569
1990 Collins, Joseph T. Maximum size records for Kansas amphibians and reptiles. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (81):13-17
1991 Conant, Roger and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. 3rd ed. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. pp.
1991 Fitch, Henry S. Reptiles and amphibians of the Kansas ecological reserves. Pages 71-74 in Ecology and Hydrology of Kansas Ecological Reserves and the Baker Wetlands. Multidisciplinary Guidebook 4. Kansas Academy of Science, Lawrence, Kansas. pp.
1993 Collins, Joseph T. and Suzanne L. Collins. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas. Third Edition. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Lawrence. 397pp.
Joseph T. Collins third Kansas herpetology. <Need to get species total and principal differences with previous 'version' (= Collins 1982)>
1995 Holman, J. Alan. Pleistocene Amphibians and Reptiles. Oxford University Press, New York. 243pp.
1995 Moriarty, Emily C. and Joseph T. Collins. First known occurrence of amphibian species in Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (100):28-30
1996 Rakestraw, J. Spring herp counts: A Kansas tradition. Reptile & Amphibian Magazine (March-April):75-80
1997 Rundquist, Eric M. Results of the ninth annual KHS herp counts held 1 April-31 May 1997. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (108):12-17
1997 Irschick, Duncan J. and H. Bradley Shaffer. The polytypic species revisited: Morphological differentiation among tiger salamanders (Ambystoma tigrinum) (Amphibia: Caudata). Herpetologica 53(1):30-49
1998 Conant, Roger and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. 3rd ed, expanded. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. pp.
1998 Powell, Robert, Joseph T Collins, and Errol D Hooper Jr. A Key to Amphibians & Reptiles of the Continental United States and Canada. Univ Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. 131pp.
1998 Gamble, Jerre. Marais des Cygnes National Wildlife Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Hartford, Kansas. 91pp.
2002 Kingsbury, Bruce and Joanna Gibson. Habitat Management Guidelines for Amphibians and Reptiles of the Midwest. Publication of Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, Address not given. 152pp.
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
2010 Collins, Joseph T., Suzanne L. Collins, and Travis W. Taggart. Amphibians, Reptiles, and Turtles of Kansas Eagle Mountain Publishing., Provo, Utah. 400pp.
Joseph T. Collins fourth Kansas herpetology. <Need to get species total and principal differences with previous 'version' (= Collins 1993)>
2012 Rohweder, Megan R. Spatial conservation prioritization of Kansas for terrestrial vertebrates. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 151pp.
2012 Powell, Robert, Joseph T Collins, and Errol D Hooper Jr. Key to the Herpetofauna of the Continental United States and Canada: Second Edition, Revised and Updated. Univ Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. 152pp.
2015 Rohweder, Megan R. Kansas Wildlife Action Plan. Ecological Services Section, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism in cooperation with the Kansas Biological Survey. 176pp.
2015 Watermolen, Dreux J. Synopsis of chiggers parasitic on North American amphibians. Bulletin of the Chicago Herpetological Society 50(10):161-170
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.
2016 Powell, Robert, Roger Conant, and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston. 494pp.
2017 Taggart, Travis W. and J. Daren Riedle. A Pocket Guide to Kansas Amphibians, Turtles and Lizards. Great Plains Nature Center, Wichita, Kansas. 69pp.
2017 Crother, Brian I. (editor) Scientific and Standard English Names of Amphibians and Reptiles of North America North of Mexico, with Comments Regarding Confidence in Our Understanding. Eighth edition. Herpetological Circulars (43):102
2019 Powell, Robert, Joseph T Collins, and Errol D Hooper Jr. Key to the Herpetofauna of the Continental United States and Canada. Third Edition. Univ Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. 192pp.
2020 Daniel, Richard E. and Brian S. Edmond. Atlas of Missouri Amphibians and Reptiles for 2019. Privately printed, Columbia, Missouri. 86pp.
2020 Riedle, J. Daren. Revisiting Kansas Herpetological Society field trip and Herp Count data: Distributional patterns and trend data of Kansas amphibians and reptiles. Collinsorum 9(1):7-16
2021 Mardis, Dexter R. Spontaneity a herpers helper: Day tripping to Arkansas and back. Collinsorum 10(1):18-19
2021 Everson, Kathryn M., Levi N. Graya, Angela G. Jones, Nicolette M. Lawrence, Mary E. Foley, Kelly L. Sovacool, Justin D. Kratovil, Scott Hotaling, Paul M. Hime, Andrew Storferd, Gabriela Parra-Oleaf, Ruth Percino-Daniel, X. Aguilar-Miguel, Eric M. O’Neill, Luis Zambranof,H. Bradley Shaffer, and David W. Weisrock Geography is more important than life history in the recent diversification of the tiger salamander complex. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 118(17 e2014719118):10
Account Last Updated:
2/24/2024 9:18:17 AM - page took 1.0915651 seconds to load.


Travis W. Taggart © 1999-2024 — w/ Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Fort Hays State University