Wild Ambystoma mavortium mavortium larva (Barred Tiger)

John

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(Edit: If you like the photos in this thread, then you'll adore these other photos)

This is a larval Ambystoma mavortium mavortium (Barred Tiger Salamander) from a pond on the High Plains of West Texas that I saw this weekend. This was my first real salamander field trip since I moved to the US in 2005. Where better to start than with one of my favourite species?

Over the weekend I saw only one adult (a beautifully marked individual - it was swimming in a ditch next to a large pond) but I failed to catch it for a photograph. I'm going to write an article based on this trip and possibly a few more trips to the same area over the next few months.

The larva is 95 mm in the photos. I'm quite intrigued by how much yellow pigmentation it has. I had never seen larval tiger salamanders in person before last weekend but from what I have seen in photos, they are generally marked more darkly?
 

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Nice pics John. I really like the yellow in the gills. I am curious about how much surrounding vegetation there was? Being from Virginia I tend to have a mental picture of Texas as a big, dry desert (which I of course realize is not true).
Chip
 

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For the pond where I got those guys there wasn't much cover - it was on private property and 3/4 of the bank was fair way on a golf course (!) or a road. Most of the habitats I visited were surrounded by farm or grassland. I have a few photos I might post here.

Texas has been rather wet this year so everything is very green, even over there (my car got stuck in the mud on Saturday night). Normally that part of Texas is somewhat arid so I wasn't there at a representative time. I read in a paper a few days ago that one of the ponds in the same area had large tiger salamander larvae in it in mid summer with a water temperature over 37 degrees Celsius (and this wasn't harming the larvae). They are tough tigers in that part of the country.
 

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tigers in the desert

Very nice find, John! You're one up on me, as I have yet to see a native salamander here in New Mexico.
Being from Virginia I tend to have a mental picture of Texas as a big, dry desert (which I of course realize is not true).
Chip
Tiger salamanders are incredibly adaptable, even to habitats that truly are big dry deserts! I was surprised to learn that every county in the state of New Mexico has tiger salamanders in it. They can breed in cattle troughs and other surprisingly small bodies of water.
 

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I found a cattle trough on Sunday too but it was full of bullfrog tadpoles and chorus frogs. No salamanders :/.
 

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Wow - I found my first larval tiger salamander this year too. Here is a picture for comparison. Definately not the yellow as the one you found. It was found in Northern Indiana.
 

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John

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Actually, taking into account lighting and other environmental differences, are they really all that different?
 

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From your description, it sounds like the tiger you found looks yellow (without the camera effect). The tiger I found does not look yellow at all - just mottled brown. The adult tigers around here have yellow markings, but not very bright, nothing like the barred salamander pictures I've seen.
 

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Well the yellow I think is accentuated by the reflective iridophores on my tiger shooting the flash back at me. What's the local species/subspecies of tiger where you are?
 

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Thanks Dane. They can be tricky little blighters to find. What struck me most when I caught one was how much like an axolotl it is. I thought they would seem distinctly different but superficially they are axolotls.
 

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Hi John, sorry it took me some time to respond but I think the tigers around here are: Eastern tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum). I'm definately not an expert on this, its my best guess.
 
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