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3 Cool Salamanders in New Mexico

There are only 3 species of salamander in New Mexico, but in total there are 26 amphibians that call the state its home. This article will cover the types of salamanders that you may find in New Mexico, but also the interesting things that you should know about them.

The United States has more salamander species than anywhere else in the world. New Mexico’s mountainous, and forest habitats make a great home for the few species that live in the state.

Salamanders in their environment are a sign of a clean ecosystem. Pollution, habitat destruction, and climate change are reasons why today salamanders across the United States are becoming endangered. Protecting salamanders also helps protect New Mexico’s ecosystems. Let’s take a look at three salamanders in New Mexico, and what you should know about them.

Salamanders in New Mexico

1. Tiger Salamander

Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum) on a wooden log in Aiken County, South Carolina, USA
Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum) on a wooden log – source
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Ambystomatidae
  • Scientific Name: Ambystoma tigrinum
  • Other Names: n/a
  • Adult Size: 7 to 13 inches (17.78 to 33 cm)
  • Lifespan: 15 years
  • Average Price Range: $40

Tiger salamanders are native to New Mexico, and have a scattered range across the United States. This species is fossorial, and lives underground in burrows. Habitats like grasslands, woodlands, mountainous areas, and other places near streams, and waterpools are where this salamander lives. Tiger salamanders have made their range larger since humans use their eggs as bait, and irrigation has helped their range expand.

The tiger salamander is the largest salamander species in New Mexico, and one of the largest in the United States. This species has dark brown, black, or gray coloring. Yellow or brown stripes cover them, and their bodies are very robust. 

When born this species is aquatic, and adults travel to their birthing pond to mate. Females lay their eggs in masses of 25 to 30. They take around 2 weeks to hatch, and metamorphosis occurs 2 to 5 months after hatching.

Tiger salamanders are cannibalistic, and also feed on other invertebrates they may find. Disease and habitat loss are what threaten the tiger salamander, and why they are endangered in parts of their range.

2. Sacramento Mountain Salamander

Sacramento Mountain Salamanders (Aneides hardii) held in hand for pic
Sacramento Mountain Salamanders (Aneides hardii) held in hand for pic – source
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Family: Plethodontidae
  • Scientific Name: Aneides hardii
  • Other Names: n/a
  • Adult Size: 4.48 inches (11.3 cm)
  • Lifespan: 15 years
  • Average Price Range: n/a

The Sacramento Mountain salamander is endemic to the mountainous regions in New Mexico. They live in the Capitan Mountains, the Sierra Blanca range, and the Sacramento Mountain ranges.

This species lives at elevations up to 7,900 ft and inhabit moist woodlands. Sacramento Mountain salamanders are a “Near-Threatened” species. They are mainly affected by habitat loss and activities like logging.

Sacramento Mountain salamanders are medium-sized and have a slender appearance. They have around 14 or 15 costal grooves on them and dark brown coloring. Brownish or gold speckles appear on their back, sometimes forming a dorsal stripe.

Invertebrates like snails, spiders, springtails, beetles, and ants are what this salamander eats. They are preyed on mainly by the western terrestrial garter snake. Summer is when this salamander is breeding, and its eggs are placed in moist crevices. Sacramento Mountain salamander larvae develop in their eggs, and when hatched they are terrestrial.

3. Jemez Mountain Salamander

Jemez Mountains Salamander (Plethodon neomexicanus) held in hand for picture
Jemez Mountains Salamander (Plethodon neomexicanus) held in hand for picture – source
  • Experience Level: Advanced 
  • Family: Plethodontidae 
  • Scientific Name: Plethodon neomexicanus 
  • Other Names: n/a 
  • Adult Size: 1.5 to 4.5 inches (3.8 to 11.43 cm) 
  • Lifespan: 15 years 
  • Average Price Range: n/a 

The Jemez Mountains salamander is an endangered species that lives in New Mexico. They are an endemic species only found in the north-central region of the state in the Jemez Mountains. This salamander lives at elevations between 7,200 to 9,500 feet. They are a nocturnal species, hibernating when temperatures go below  42.8°F. Jemez Mountains salamanders are primarily terrestrial and do not have an aquatic stage.

Jemez Mountain salamanders have a dark brown coloring and a gray underside. This species has a moist appearance and is covered in a golden speck. They are slender, with small limbs, with 18 to 20 costal grooves on them.

Studying this salamander is difficult since they have such a small range and a limited population. Jemez Mountains salamanders live in woodland habitats, hiding under things like logs, and moist moss. Most of this salamander’s life is spent underground in burrows, coming out on rainy nights. Ants are what this salamander consumes the most, and they feed on other small invertebrates.

FAQ

What is the largest salamander in New Mexico?

The tiger salamander is the largest species of salamander in New Mexico. This species is able to grow up to 13 inches, and its average weight is 126 g (4.4 oz).

Tiger salamanders get their name from their tiger-like stripes that appear on them, and their yellow coloring. This species is native to New Mexico, and is one of three species that live in the state.

Are salamanders common in New Mexico?

Even though the United States is home to more salamander species than anywhere else in the world, New Mexico only has three species. Salamanders in New Mexico are mainly found in woodlands and mountainous regions in streams.

The three species in the state have their own range in which they can be found, but are hard to find since their populations are threatened, or endangered.

When are salamanders most active in New Mexico?

Warm and rainy nights are when salamanders are active most in New Mexico. In extremely hot or cold periods of the year, salamanders are not active.

They are nocturnal, coming out to feed on small invertebrates during the night. Debris like rocks, logs, and moist vegetation are where they can be typically found.

Wrapping up

Those are the thee Salamanders in New Mexico. They are all important to the ecosystems they live in. Salamanders are useful since they feed on populations of invertebrates and pests. They are also useful food for animals like carnivorous mammals, birds, snakes, and larger amphibians.

Keeping a salamander as a pet is a great way to learn about them and see how amazing these animals are. Learning about the different species is a great way to see which ones make the best pets. With the right care salamanders can live for years and be a fun companion.

You should never take a salamander from the wild since they are a part of a greater population needed to sustain themselves in the wild. In New Mexico and other areas of the United States, it is important to sustain and maintain the habitats and populations of salamanders.

Other nearby states

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