Mudpuppies, sometimes also known as waterdogs, are one of only a few salamanders that make noise. They get their name from the squeaky vocalizations that they make that resemble a dog’s bark. Among the largest of the salamanders, these creatures can exceed 16 inches in length with the average usually being more like something around 11 inches. They can be found from southern central Canada, through the Midwestern United States, east to North Carolina and south to Georgia and Mississippi.
Mudpuppies typically reside on the bottoms of lakes, ponds, rivers and streams and never leave the water. They often hide themselves in vegetation and underneath rocks and logs. They emerge at night to feed on whatever type of prey they are able to catch. Anything from crayfish to worms or snails.
These salamanders are easily classified by their busy, red external gills, which they grow as larva and never lose. They also have flat heads, wide tails, stubby legs and feet that are equipped with four toes. Their bodies are gray and brownish-gray with blue-black spots.
The female mudpuppy reproduces by laying large clutches of eggs and guards them until they hatch. This is a very unique trait among salamanders. The loss of habitats and pollution are putting a pressure on some local populations of mudpuppies, however they have no specific conservation status.
Unlike many of their amphibian cousins, mudpuppies never form lungs to breathe air through. Instead they rely on their gills that are located behind their heads to breathe under water such as fish do. Young mudpuppies have a yellow stripe on each side of their backs. These creatures are slimy and difficult to handle since their bodies have no scales.
Mudpuppies mate in late fall, but the females do not usually begin laying their eggs until the following spring. Females generally deposit anywhere from 50 to 100 eggs in a nest cavity under a rock or something along those lines. It takes 1 to 2 months for these eggs to hatch. It takes 4 to 6 years for mudpuppies to mature and they can live to be more than 20 years old.