AMPHIBIA (Amphibians) CAUDATA (Salamanders) PROTEIDAE (Mudpuppys and Olms)

MUDPUPPY
Necturus maculosus (Rafinesque 1818)
nĕk-tŭr-ŭs — măk-ū-lō-sŭs


Conservation Status:

State: None

Federal: None
NatureServe State: S5 - Secure
NatureServe National: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Global: G5 - Secure
CITES: None

An adult male Mudpuppy from Franklin County, Kansas. © 2018 Travis W. Taggart.
Two adult Mudpuppies from Greenwood County, Kansas. Image © Suzanne L. Collins.
Series of Mudpuppies (FHSM 7492- 94) from Neosho Falls, Woodson County, Kansas, illustrating the variation of ventral shading and spotting. Image © Travis W. Taggart.
An adult Mudpuppy, from Allen County, Kansas.© Suzanne L. Collins.
An adult Mudpuppy from Franklin County, Kansas. Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.
Ventral and dorsal photos of an adult Mudpuppy from Douglas County, Kansas (KU 949). Image courtesy KUMNH.

Diagnosis:
The Mudpuppy is a large, obligate aquatic salamander with a large flattened, square head, small eyes, and a pair of distinctive, red feathery gills on each side of its head. They are neotenic (retaining larval characteristics into maturity [no transformation]) and retain large external gills throughout their life. In the more clear and cool streams (e.g. Shoal Creek), their gills may be reduced, but are still quite noticeable. 
They are gray or reddish-brown, to dark brown with irregularly spaced diffuse-edged blotches on the back. Rarely, the spots may merge to form stripes in adults. There is typically a diffuse dark stripe that runs from the nostril, through the eye, to the gills. The belly is whitish to light gray to light yellow, and may be spotted along the sides or spotted throughout. Specimens from the Marais des Cygnes river drainages have a greater incidence of belly spotting and a darker background than specimens from elsewhere in the state, however, all populations in Kansas may be quite variable in this respect (Taggart 2003; George and Slack 2010).
Four toes are present on each of four well-developed limbs. The cloacae of mature males have two prominent papillae directed backward. In the breeding season, the cloacae of males are swollen. Female cloacae are slit-like and often lighter in coloration. Young Mudpuppies are dark brown with longitudinal yellowish stripes.
— Neosho/Verdigris drainage: Adults normally 200-250 mm (8-9¾ inches) in total length. The largest Kansas specimen is a male (FHSM 7496) from Allen County with a snout-vent length of 211 mm and a total length of 307 mm (12 inches) collected by Travis W. Taggart on 22 February 2003. This specimen is the largest individual recorded throughout its range (Powell, et al, 2016).
— Marais des Cygnes drainage: Adults normally 200-330 mm (8-13 inches) in total length. The largest specimen is sex undetermined (KU 209746) from Osage County with a snout-vent length of 262 mm and a total length of 385 mm (15¼ inches) collected by Tom Mosher on 4 April 1988. The maximum length throughout the range is 19 1/8 inches (Powell, et al, 2016).


Distribution:
The Mudpuppy is confined to the Marais des Cygnes, Neosho, and Verdigris drainage basins in Kansas. They may be found in ponds, lakes, and streams with a surface connection to perennial waters. They seek shelter under logs, rocks, or vegetation. They are rarely seen but are occasionally found under rocks in shallow water or collected on hook and line by anglers. They have been reported in water as deep as 30 meters.
A specimen (KU 949) from Douglas County was collected at Lawrence (Kansas River) on 1 January 1916. This record is somewhat corroborated by a record in Daniels and Edmond (2019) from Jackson Co., Missouri (39.1853423436303, -94.3193769802433: Missouri River (Atherton, near): 28 Mar 1937 [B. Edmond pers. comm.]). The next closest records on the Kansas/Missouri rivers are at its confluence with the Osage/Marias des Cygnes approximately 132 miles (212.3 km) (straight line) ESE of the Jackson County record. Brumwell (1933) plotted a record from Leavenworth County. Brumwell (1951) stated that the Mudpuppy was rarely found on the reservation [Fort Leavenworth], having been taken in the Missouri River and ponds near its banks which are. However, goes on to state "In some of the tanks on farms in this area it is common." which indicates there may be confusion with larval forms of Ambystoma. Corroborating records from the Missouri /Kansas rivers west of Jefferson City, Missouri are desirable.
(,   Museum Voucher) (,   Observation) (,   Literature Record) (,   iNat Record)
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  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 68
    Records 
  • 61
    Museum Vouchers 
  • 7
    Other Observations 
Some county occurrences indicated below may be too imprecise to map above.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences):
Allen (10); Anderson (1); Bourbon (1); Chase (1); Cherokee (2); Crawford (2); Douglas (1); Franklin (20); Greenwood (6); Leavenworth (1); Lyon (3); Miami (8); Montgomery (1); Morris (2); Osage (5); Unknown (1); Woodson (3);

Natural History:
In the fall, Mudpuppies form shallow-water mating aggregations in sheltered areas under rocks or logs. Males deposit a spermatophore, which is picked up by the female, and stored until late spring. In the spring, females excavate nest cavities (10cm to 3 m deep) under rocks or logs (the entrances are on the downstream side) and lay 18 to 180 eggs (5 and 11 mm in diameter) on the cavity ceiling. Depending on water temperature, Mudpuppy eggs take 1 to 2 months to develop. The larvae are 20 to 25 mm in length upon hatching and spend most of their time in leaf beds and other sheltered areas. Mudpuppies reach sexual maturity and 4 to 5 years of age, at a body length of about 20 cm.
Rundquist and Collins (1977) reported an adult Mudpuppy (KU 174546) discovered while being consumed by a Common Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon) in a shallow area of Shoal Creek at Schermerhorn Park, Cherokee County.

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.
Remarks:
An obligate aquatic salamander, the Mudpuppy is incapable of surviving for extended periods of time outside of water. As such, they are especially sensitive to environmental changes. The implementation of a continued systematic survey regime at both historic and new localities is needed to adequately assess the status of this salamander in the state. Little is known about this salamander in the state because they are difficult to collect.
Viosca (1938) described Necturus louisiensis from Louisiana, and specimens from the Arkansas River drainages (Neosho/Spring/Grand and Verdigris) may be assignable to this taxon. In general Necturus louisiensis is smaller, has a lighter colored belly, and has reduced ventral spotting.
Recently there has been renewed movement toward considering those populations from the Neosho and Verdigris drainages in Kansas as Necturus louisiensis. Collins, (1991) considered N. louisiensis to be distinct from N. maculosus on the basis of their allopatry and diagnosability. Chabarria et. al (2018), discussed the range and phylogenetics of this species, recognizing N. louisiensis and redelimiting it to include many populations formerly associated with N. maculosus in the Ohio and Tennessee River drainages.

Bibliography:
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1818 Rafinesque, Constantine S. Further account of discoveries in natural history, in the western states. The American Monthly Magazine and Critical Review 4():39-42
Contains the original description of Sirena maculosa (=Necturus maculosus) page 41 and Crotalinus viridis (=Crotalus viridis) page 41.
1885 Cragin, Francis W. Recent additions to the list of Kansas reptiles and batrachians, with further notes on species previously reported. Bulletin of the Washburn College Laboratory of Natural History 1(3):100-103
1885 Cragin, Francis W. Second contribution to the herpetology of Kansas, with observations on the Kansas fauna. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 9():136-140
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. 
1938 Viosca, Percy, Jr. A new waterdog from central Louisiana. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 51():143-146
Original description of Necturus louisianensis.
1947 Hall, Henry H. and Hobart M. Smith Selected records of reptiles and amphibians from southeastern Kansas Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 49(4):447-454
Report on certain Kansas specimens housed in the collection at what is now Pittsburg State University. Included are several species of dubious status today, including Cryptobranchus alleganiensis from the Neosho and Spring rivers (the only specimens from those significant drainages ever documented), Ambystoma maculatum from just north of Pittsburg, Crawford County, Heterodon nasicus from Crawford County, Opheodrys vernalis from Crawford County, Sonora episcopa from Crawford County, Agkistrodon piscivorus from Cherokee County, Crotalus atrox from Crawford County, and Crotalus viridis from Crawford County. They report several significant range extensions including Kinosternon flavescens from Turkey Creek in southeast Cherokee County, Graptemys geographica from just north of Pittsburg, Crotaphytus collaris from near Columbus, Cherokee County, Sceloporus consobrinus from just north of Pittsburg, Phrynosoma cornutum from Cherokee and Crawford counties, Heterodon platirhinos from Cherokee and Crawford counties, Haldea striatula from Crawford County, Sistrurus tergeminus from Crawford County, and a 402 lb Macrochelys temminckii in Cherokee County from just east of Chetopa (Labette County). They allude to the potential for Anaxyrus fowleri to occur in southeast Kansas and for native populations of Crotalus atrox in south central Kansas (in part from the disclosure that John R. Breukelman [then of ESU] had obtained three specimens in Woods County Oklahoma, 3/4 of a mile south of the Kansas line). None of the specimens the paper was based on, exist today.
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.
1953 Schmidt, Karl P. A Check List of North American Amphibians and Reptiles. 6th Edition. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois. 280pp.
Schmidt's first edition of his standardized checklist to North American amphibians and reptiles. Includes several specific references to Kansas in the range descriptions.
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.
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
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.
1977 Perry, Janice. Kansas herps needed. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (18):2-3
List of Kansas amphibians and reptiles desired for the SSAR/HL meeting to be held 7-13 August 1977.
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
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)>
1983 Collins, Joseph T. New records of fishes, amphibians, and reptiles in Kansas for 1982 . Technical Publication of the State Biological Survey of Kansas 13():9-21
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 Brown, Kenneth L. Pomona: A plains village variant in eastern Kansas and western Missouri. Dissertation. University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. 519pp.
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 Cooper, John E. and Ray E. Ashton, Jr. The Necturus lewisi Study: Introduction, selected literature review, and comments on the hydrologic units and their faunas. Brimleyana (10):1-12
1985 Capron, Marty. Thunder snakes, blow vipers, and others. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (60):9-10
1989 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 1988. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (75):15-18
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.
1992 Taggart, Travis W. KHS field trips. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (91):3
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 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
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 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.
2002 Fassbender, Ron and Dreux J. Watermolen. Bird predation on the Mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus maculosus). Bulletin of the Chicago Herpetological Society 37(8):137-138
2003 Taggart, Travis W. Geographic distribution: Necturus louisianensis. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (5):10
2003 Taggart, Travis W. Kansas Herpetological Society 2003 spring field trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (5):3-4
2004 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians, turtles, and reptiles in Kansas for 2003. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (9):8-11
2004 Taggart, Travis W. Life history. Necturus louisianensis. New maximum length for entire range. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (10):11
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)>
2010 Murrow, Daniel G. Kansas Herpetological Society spring field trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (33):2-3
2010 George, Steven G. and William T. Slack. Evidence of a contact zone for Mudpuppies (Necturus sp.) in the lower Mississippi River basin. IRCF Reptiles and Amphbians 17(3):156-157
2011 Taggart, Travis W. Kansas Herpetological Society 2011 spring field trip to beheld in Chautauqua County. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (37):5-7
2012 Rohweder, Megan R. Spatial conservation prioritization of Kansas for terrestrial vertebrates. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 151pp.
2014 Taggart, Travis W. Recent scientific and standard English name changes effecting the Kansas herpetofauna. Collinsorum 3(2-4):9-10
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.
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 Chabarria, Ryan E., Christopher M. Murray, Paul E. Molerm, Henry L. Bart Jr., Brian I. Crother, and Craig Guyer. Evolutionary insights into the North American Necturus beyeri complex (Amphibia: Caudata) based on molecular genetic and morphological analyses. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research 56(3):12
2020 Buchanan, Jennifer L. Diet of the Mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus) in eastern Kansas. Thesis. Emporia State Univeristy, Emporia, Kansas.. 50pp.
2020 Autz, Justin J. Distribution, habitat, and seasonal activity of the Mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus) in eastern Kansas. Thesis. Emporia State Univeristy, Emporia, Kansas.. 67pp.
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
Account Last Updated:
5/5/2022 2:49:07 PM