Western Lesser Siren


Scientific Name: Siren intermedia nettingi
Size: 7 – 19.7” (adult size)
Status: Presumed to be extremely rare and possibly even extirpated over the Great Lakes basin.
Michigan State Status: Special Concern
MDNR Wildlife Action Plan Status: Species of Greatest Conservation Need


Western Lesser Siren


Are fully aquatic and may be found in ponds, ditches, backwater sloughs, slow streams, and shallow lake inlets. Prefer habitats with muddy bottoms and ample aquatic vegetation.

Adult Coloration:

Dark gray, brown, or olive, usually with dark spots or flecks scattered over the body, though some may be almost black. Occasionally with a light stripe on the upper lip. Belly is gray, usually with lighter spots.

Adult Characteristics:

Aquatic salamanders with external gills that are reddish and bushy. Body is eel-like and tail is vertically flattened. Tiny front legs with four toes on each foot, and no hind legs. Head wider than neck, with rounded snout and small eyes. Skin is very slimy. Males may be larger than females in some areas.

Larvae Characteristics:

Very young larvae have red, orange, or yellow marks on head, yellow stripe down each side of the body, and a dorsal tail fin. Sometimes no markings present.

Species Confused With:

Mudpuppies also have external gills, but they are not eel-like and have four legs.


  • 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.