There are two salamanders in Arizona although just one is endemic to the state. The salamander endemic to Arizona is the barred tiger salamander.
This amphibian derives its name from the coloration and patterns of its upper body which is gray to black with yellow markings. These markings are stripes, spots, and blotches.
The barred tiger salamander is the largest terrestrial salamander in North America and can reach a length of 14 inches.
The other salamander found in Arizona is the ensatina. This is a small to medium-sized salamander. The ensatina found in Arizona is the large blotched ensatina which derives its name from the large orange blotches on the skin.
Table of Contents
Salamanders in Arizona
1. Western Tiger Salamander
- Binomial Nomenclature: Ambystoma mavortium
- Adult Length: 6 to 14 inches (15 to 35.6 cm)
- Average Adult Mass: 126 grams (4.44 oz)
- Lifespan: 12 to 15 years
- State Ranking: S5 (Secure)
- Distribution in Arizona: Statewide
Barred Tiger Salamander
Trinomial nomenclature: Ambystoma mavortium mavortium
Arizona Tiger Salamander
Trinomial nomenclature: Ambystoma mavortium nebulosum
Sonoran Tiger Salamander
Trinomial nomenclature: Ambystoma mavortium stebbinsi
Ambystoma mavortium is the only salamander native to Arizona. Within Arizona, the species is endemic to the north and the southeast. The counties where the salamander is endemic include Coconino, Navajo, Apache, Maricopa, Gila, and Cochise.
Below is a visual representation of where they can be found in the state.
The wild populations in the south were introduced by fishers who wanted to use the species for fish bait. Outside of Arizona, the species is endemic to western North America. The range extends from Canada all the way to Mexico.
Within, Canada the species is endemic to the Great Plains in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta; and the southern Okanagan region of British Columbia. The species is endemic to the Rocky Mountains from Montana to New Mexico.
The specie is also endemic to south Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, western Minnesota, and North and South Dakotas. In the Northwest United States, the species is endemic to Idaho and Washington. This range extends into southern British Columbia in Canada.
The species is also endemic to northern Mexico in states such as northern Coahuila, Chihuahua, and Sonora.
The species are considered the largest terrestrial salamanders in North America. They are known to reach a length of 14 inches and a weight of 4.44 oz or 126 grams. They are known as barred tiger salamanders because of the coloration of their dorsum which is a gray background with yellow markings. These markings are stripes, spots, and blotches.
Similar to other mole salamanders, Ambystoma mavortium are stout with rounded faces and short limbs.
The tiger salamander is common across the North American continent because of the adaptable nature of the species. This amphibian can thrive in diverse ecosystems.
They inhibit alpine meadows, subalpine meadows, bushy areas, open fields, woodlands, coniferous forests, and bottomland deciduous forests. Ambystoma mavortium requires cool and moist habitats.
As adults, the tiger salamander is hardly seen as they spend most of their lives in burrows dug by rodents.
The species requires suitable breeding habitats. These are freshwater sources. These water sources are generally ponds and streams with slow-flowing waters. The waters need to be slow as the larvae find it difficult to obtain food in fast-moving streams.
While adults are terrestrial, hatchlings are aquatic larvae.
The species are carnivorous and feed mostly on invertebrates. Both larvae and adults feed on invertebrates. While larvae feed on aquatic invertebrates, adults feed on terrestrial invertebrates. Because of their massive size, they also feed on larger prey such as frogs, minnows, and mice. Large larval forms may also feed on other salamander larvae.
- Binomial Nomenclature: Ensatina eschscholtzii
- Snout-to-vent Length: 1.5 to 3.2 inches (3.8 to 8.1 cm)
- Lifespan: 15 years
- State Ranking: Exotic
- Distribution in Arizona: Central
Trinomial nomenclature: Ensatina eschscholtzii klauberi
The ensatina is the other salamander in Arizona. This species is found only in Gila. The species is exotic to the state.
Below is a visual representation of where they can be found in the state.
Outside of Arizona, the species is endemic to western North America. The range stars in the southwestern portion of British Columbia in Canada. The range extends along Coast Rangers to Baja California in Mexico. The range extends to the Sierra Nevada and the Cascade Range. The species is also endemic to the east of Cascade Crest of Washington state.
The subspecies introduced to Arizona is the large-blotched Ensatina (Ensatina eschscholtzii klauberi). This subspecies is named after the large blotches on the skin. The background color of the species is orange to red with large black blotches all over the head, body, tail, and limbs. The background color may also be black with orange to red blotches on the head, body, tail, and limbs.
The large-blotched ensatina is originally endemic to the SanBerdino Mountains to Sierra San Pedro Mártir in California and Baja California respectively. The species is also endemic to Sierra Juarez in Baja California; Cuyamaca mountains, Laguna Mountains, Palomar Mountain in San Diego County; Cahuilla Mountain, Santa Rosa Mountains, and San Jacinto Mountains in Riverside County.
The species inhabit caves, pine-oak-incense cedar forests, canyons, oak woodland, chaparral, redwood forest, forest clearings, and Douglas-fir and maple forests.
The species feed mainly on invertebrates including insects such as crickets, springtails, beetles, millipedes, and spiders.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many salamanders are in Arizona?
There are two salamanders in the state of Arizona. These are the barred tiger salamander and the ensatina. The ensatina is an exotic amphibian and is not native to the state. There is little known about their existence within the state. The ensatina within the state is the large blotched ensatina. This amphibian is black with large orange blotches.
The barred tiger salamander is known to be endemic to the north and southeast.
What is a barred tiger salamander?
This is a mole salamander endemic to Western North America from British Columbia in Camada to Northern Mexico. This is the only native salamander in Arizona. Within Arizona, this salamander is endemic to Coconino, Navajo, Apache, Maricopa, Gila, and Cochise.
The barred tiger is the largest terrestrial salamander in North America and reaches a length of 14 inches. The body of the barred tiger is gray to black with yellow stripes, spots, and blotches. This coloration gives the amphibian its common name.
What is the state amphibian of Arizona?
The state amphibian of Arizona is the Arizona tree frog (Dryophytes wrightorum). This frog is endemic to the mountains of Arizona and is also known as Wright’s mountain tree frog.
What is the largest salamander?
The Chinese giant salamander (Andrias davidianus) and the South China giant salamander (Andrias sligoi) are considered to be the largest salamanders. The Chinese giant salamanders are known to reach a length of 5.9 inches.
Arizona is home to the largest terrestrial salamander in North America – the barred tiger salamander which can reach a length of 14 inches and a weight of 126 grams (4.44 oz).
Only one salamander is endemic to Arizona. This is the barred salamander. This amphibian is the largest terrestrial salamander in North America. Within the state, it is distributed statewide in counties including Coconino, Navajo, Apache, Maricopa, Gila, and Cochise.
The barred tiger salamander is the largest terrestrial salamander in North America. It can grow to a total body length of 14 inches. This amphibian gets its common name from the yellow stripes, blotches, or spots on its black or gray skin. This gives the skin an appearance similar to that of a tiger.
The large blotched ensatina is another salamander that is found in Arizona. This ensatina has large orange blotches on the skin. It is found in Gila County. It is exotic to this location.
Other nearby states