This large, blue-black salamander has large yellow or orange spots. It can grow to well over 20 centimetres in length, although most individuals do not exceed 15 centimetres.
The blue-spotted and Jefferson’s salamanders, as well as their hybrids, are similar in shape and size to the spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum), but their spots are blue rather than yellow or orange.
Deciduous or mixed forests and hillsides around ponds are the preferred habitat of the spotted salamander. It breeds in shallow, temporary wetlands that are free of fish. Outside of the breeding season, spotted salamanders live underground in burrows or under logs. On rainy nights, they may be found foraging on the forest floor.
View an interactive map of the known ranges of spotted salamanders in Ontario.
Spotted salamanders breed in early spring, often while there is still ice on ponds. Females lay up to 250 eggs and attach the egg mass to submerged vegetation. The mass quickly swells to the size and shape of a tennis ball. In 30 to 40 days, the larvae, which are about one centimetre in length, emerge from the eggs. They undergo metamorphosis in another two to three months, once they’ve reached four to six centimetres. Males take two to three years to reach sexual maturity, while females may take three to five years to do so.
Like most salamanders, adult spotted salamanders are terrestrial carnivores that eat a variety of insects and other invertebrates, such as worms and slugs. Larval salamanders of this species are carnivorous and primarily eat aquatic insects and other invertebrates. Spotted salamanders can live for over 30 years in the wild, though they typically only live for seven to 15 years.
Other names: yellow-spotted salamander, Lacerta maculata, Lacerta subviolacea
Threats and Trends
Spotted salamanders are known to be sensitive to the effects of acid rain. High acidity in ponds can prevent salamander eggs from hatching and affect the development of larvae. Forests, the habitat of adult salamanders, are lost to logging, agriculture and industrial and urban development. Many salamanders are killed on our roads every spring during their migration to breeding ponds. Reports of road-killed salamanders can be submitted to the Herps of Ontario iNaturalist project and will help researchers identify their critical migration routes. Despite these threats, this species does not appear to be in any significant decline.
Current Status and Protection
Neither the Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario nor the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada have assessed the status of the spotted salamander. The species has also been designated as a Specially Protected Amphibian under the Ontario Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act which offers some protection to individuals and their habitat. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the global status of the spotted salamander as Least Concern. The species’ status was confirmed in December 2020.
Learn more about reptile and amphibian conservation and what you can do to help these species on our Reptile and Amphibian Stewardship page.
What You Can Do
- Report a sighting
- Get involved in reptile and amphibian conservation on your property, on the road and in your community
- Donate to support reptile and amphibian conservation
- Watch for reptiles and amphibians on the road
- Don’t release pet reptiles and amphibians into the wild
- Read more about the spotted salamander in the Ontario Reptile and Amphibians Atlas publication.