Scientific Name: Necturus maculosus maculosus
Size: 8 – 19.1” (adult size)
Status: Species of Special Concern and Species of Greatest Conservation Need; Can be locally abundant. Have experienced recent declines or extirpation in many areas where once were common.




Are fully aquatic and live in permanent waters, such as rivers, reservoirs, inland lakes, and Great Lakes bays and shallows.

Adult Coloration:

Body, sides, and tail brown or grayish with bluish black spots or blotches. May grow darker with age, with some old individuals appearing almost solid black. Irregular dark stripe present though each eye. Underside can be pale gray or yellow and often has dark spotting.

Adult Characteristics:

Large aquatic salamander with reddish gills behind its head that may resemble dog ears. Gills may be larger in warm, oxygen depleted water and smaller in cooler, oxygen-rich waters. Broad, flat head with small eyes. Tail vertically compressed (flattened) and four toes on each foot. Skin very slimy.

Larvae Characteristics:

Yellow or cream stripe down each side from nose to tail.

Species Confused With:

Mole salamander larvae may be mistaken for small mudpuppies, but these have five toes on the hindfeet while Mudpuppies have four. Western Lesser Sirens have external gills but lack hind legs and are more eel-like.


  • Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region by Jim Harding
  • Harding, J.H. and J.A. Holman. 1992. Michigan Frogs, Toads, and Salamanders. MSU Cooperative Extension Service and MSU Museum. Extension Bull. E-2350, 144 pp.
  • Ruthven, A. G., H. B. T. Gaige, et al. 1912. The herpetology of Michigan, by Alexander B. Ruthven. Crystal Thompson and Helen Thompson; Memoranda towards a bibliography of the archaeology of Michigan, by Harlan I. Smith; prepared under the direction of Alexander G. Ruthven. Lansing, Mich., Wynkoop Hallenbeck Crawford, State Printers.
  • Holman, J. A. 2012. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Michigan: A Quaternary and Recent Faunal Adventure. Detroit, Mich., Wayne State University Press.
  • Conant, R., and Collins, J. T. 1998. Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern, Central North America. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Press.