(Necturus maculosus maculosus)

Distribution of the Mudpuppy (from the AR MI Atlas)

An adult Mudpuppy (click for larger image).

Description: One of only two permanently aquatic salamanders in Ohio, and the only one to retain external gills throughout its life. Most adults reach about 13" in length and have a brown to gray ground color. Darker spots or blotches along the body are common. Bushy red gills on either side of the head are the most prominent identifying feature of the Mudpuppy.

How to distinguish a Mudpuppy from a Hellbender (click here).
Distribution in Ohio: Records exist from throughout the state.

Status in Ohio: Generally uncommon. Most records for this species are from prior to 1950. May be locally abundant in some streams and in and around Lake Erie.

Habitat: Extremely variable, being found in small streams, larger rivers and oxbows, and reservoirs and lakes.

Life history: Breeding occurs in autumn, but eggs are not laid until the following spring or early summer. Nests are excavated under large logs or rocks, where the females attach 50-100 eggs to the roof of the cavity. The eggs hatch one to two months later, and the young never complete metamorphosis. Instead, these "Peter Pan's" of the salamander world live their entire 20+-year life underwater.

Conservation: Recent records for the Mudpuppy throughout much of Ohio are scarce, although in some places they may be relatively common. Although more tolerant of siltation than Ohio's other aquatic salamander (the Hellbender), excessive siltation can be detrimental to the Mudpuppy. The species is intolerant of lampricides, and hundreds of dead Mudpuppies are found after TFM applications in northeast Ohio rivers. Channelization has made many habitats unsuitable for Mudpuppies. Logging and agriculture along waterways increases siltation and runoff. The Mudpuppy is often killed when captured by fisherman, as many erroneously believe they are harmful.

Last modified:
Saturday, January 23, 2010

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