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mattknepley

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Hi, and thanks for checking this out. I'm new here, and to caudates in general. I did post a "get to know me" bit in the new members section.

I'm hoping you can help me id this wee beastie. I am more of a native fish fan, and belong to the North American Native Fishes Association. (A really good organization, if I may plug them :happy:) Some friends and I were seining a tiny stream in the Athens, GA area. We turned up many tiny, nondescript salamanders or newts while chasing darters and shiners. Then this guy showed up. We have shopped its picture around on our forum, and the two prevailing opinions are it's a dwarf mudpuppy (Necturus punctatus) or a larval Ambystoma of some kind. What we DO agree on is that we are no salamander experts, and should find someone who is.

So, what is it? Again, it turned up in a tiny Athens, GA stream in early February of this year. The stream alternated between small, mild riffles and knee deep pools. Much of the bottom was rock, but there were some areas with softer substrate and leaf litter. The other salamanders/newts we turned up were about the same size or smaller, but did not have external gills. The stream is not pristine, being subject to road and construction run-off. Sorry this is the only picture I have of it. Better looks at its feet may have been useful.

Thanks for your interest!
Matt
 

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Kaysie

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Definitely not an Ambystoma, especially in a river; they're pond dwellers.

I think you're probably right with the N. punctatus. It's appropriate habitat and you're in range.
 

Lamb

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Kaysie is right about it not being an Ambystoma, but I don't think that it's a Necturus, either. Count the number of toes on the hind foot. Necturus will only have 4. I'll bet that guy has 5.

Your "wee beasite" is a Pseudotriton, either a red or a mud salamander, which is an awesome salamander to find. To look at reliable photos for comparison, you can use Amphibiaweb.org, type in the species name, and then click on the photo and you'll likely find photos of larvae in the gallery.

As for getting the ID past genus and down to species, I'm less confident discriminating between larval P. ruber and P. montanus. If you can post a lateral or a dorsal shot, that might help. A good site for photos is that of Carl Brune (2008 Pseudotriton Larvae). If you go back to the main menu and click through his posts, you'll find more photos of Pseudotriton.
 

mattknepley

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Thanks for the input, guys. That is the best picture we have of the creature, but I'll go back through and see if maybe one of the other ones has a better shot of the feet or sides. Really appreciate it. What would make mud or red salamander extra-special? Are they rare in that area, or possess unusual traits?

Again, I really appreciate your interest and responses!
Matt
 

Todd Pierson

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Definitely a red salamander (Pseudotriton ruber). Mud salamanders (P. montanus) are only known from one site--a mucky floodplain--in the Athens area, and your larva matches the characteristics of P. ruber.
 

Neotenic_Jaymes

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This picture isn't the best. How about a side view? I think it's a Necturus especially if you found it in streams with fish. Though I have seen P. ruber in streams with fish also but mainly small minnow like fish. If this salamander was found in a stream with a great diversity of fish then it's likely to be a Necturus.

(Lamb) I could get a good count on the toes.
 

Todd Pierson

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It's definitely Pseudotriton ruber. No species of Necturus is found in the Athens area (nor anywhere near), but P. ruber is not uncommon. Note the supraotic pores around the eyes, a prominent characteristic in Pseudotriton, but not so much in Necturus.

Here's a N. punctatus
8146493629_c45b3a805c_b.jpg


And a P. ruber similar in appearance to Matt's.
4283395321_e2842667be_o.jpg
 

mattknepley

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You're right, Devil Newt, it's not the best picture. Unfortunately, it is the best I have. The only fish we saw in the stream were small Cyprinids and Percina darters. The salamander population was pretty strong, we turned up at least one in almost ever seine. Those photos of yours are really, really good Todd. I can definitely see a resemblance between my picture and your P. ruber. The snouts are very similar. They make the N. punctatus snout look elongated. I looked up the Pseudotritons in my trusty Amphibians and Reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia; I now see why Lamb liked them. They are good lookin' amphibians!

So I guess we'll go with an id of Pseudotriton ruber, with a minority opinion of N. punctatus?

Thanks for the help, folks. You may just have sparked a new interest for me! I'll be lurking around here for sure...

Matt
 

Neotenic_Jaymes

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Nice pics! Well that settles it. It looked so similar to a N. punctatus that's what had me going.
 

Neotenic_Jaymes

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It's definitely Pseudotriton ruber. No species of Necturus is found in the Athens area (nor anywhere near), but P. ruber is not uncommon. Note the supraotic pores around the eyes, a prominent characteristic in Pseudotriton, but not so much in Necturus.

Here's a N. punctatus
8146493629_c45b3a805c_b.jpg


And a P. ruber similar in appearance to Matt's.
4283395321_e2842667be_o.jpg

Thanks for clearing that up.
 
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