Common Reptile and Amphibian Species of Northwestern Ontario





Ambystoma maculatum
Yellow-spotted Salamander


Distinguishing Features - Large sized. Colouration, deep bluish black upperside; underside and under surface of the limbs, pale slate colour. On either side of the mid-dorsal line of the body are large, round, yellow or orange spots. Body, stout, somewhat depressed with a broadly rounded snout. Sides of the head are often swollen at the back of the jaw. Legs, large with four to five toes. Females slightly larger than males.

Yellow-spotted Salamander Size -
up to 19 cm (7.5 in)


Found in Northwestern Ontario, on and around the Sibley peninsula and near Lake Superior from Thunder Bay north to southern shores of Lake Nipigon; deciduous forests with vernal pools or fish-free permanent ponds suitable for breeding and larval life.


Migration to the breeding ponds begins during the first rain at night following the thaw of snow. The females lay compact egg masses that are attached to submerged objects; the average number of eggs in a mass is 125. The incubation period varies from 31 to 54 days depending on water temperature. When larvae hatch they are usually 12-13 mm in length. The larvae look similar to tadpoles upon hatching because they have feathery gills and no hind legs. Transformation occurs during the months of August and September; the yellow and orange spots are usually acquired within a week following transformation.


The species uses its sticky tongue to catch food which consists mainly of a variety of invertebrates including earthworms, snails, slugs, spiders, millipedes, and insects.

Predators of adults include skunks, raccoons, and snakes.

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