This is a salamander that supposedly can make sounds similar to that of a dog's bark. This ability has also earned it another name called waterdogs. However, the fact that it can generate dog like sounds turned out to be incorrect, but the name of this salamander remained unchanged. These aquatic salamanders originated from the Proteidae family.
The species retain their gills and also have lungs that provide them with little respiration. Though they have lungs, most of their life is spent in water. These waterdogs have an excellent ability to breathe from the skin as well from gills.
In case of poor oxygen in water, they expand their gills to increase water circulation and also to have enough space to take in available oxygen. With their slimy and moist body, these aquatic animals have well adapted themselves to marine life. Let us explore further and know all about them.
These 8-15 inches long salamanders, have a rusty brown body color. The top layer of the skin has blue-gray spots spread unevenly on the body. The stout bodied creatures can be distinguished by their red bushy gills. They have a flattened head with tiny eyes. They have a large mouth and have limbs with four toes.
Their tail has small fins which slightly appear orange. They have extremely slimy and moist bodies, which suits water conditions well. The body temperature of these creatures change as per the temperature of their habitat. Chromatic mudpuppies attract the attention of passersby and therefore now many consider keeping salamanders as pets.
Habitat and Distribution
They are seen inhabiting shallow waters, lakes and streams. These aquatic salamanders are nocturnal in clear water and diurnal in muddy water. This species are spread throughout the Red River in North Dakota and even spotted in Mississippi River, Great Lakes and the Hudson River of North America. They can dwell even at depths of 120 feet.
They are known to have a varied diet and can consume different kinds of marine animals. The ability to consume various foods, helps them to survive the changing water conditions. At larval level these animals consume micro-organisms and as they mature and increase in size, their diet change to worms, crayfish, frogs, small fish and their eggs, and mollusks.
The period of courting begins during the winter, when males displays an impressive act to mate with the females. During the performance, the males release sperms and the females takes them in their cloaca. The females then lays their eggs at the beginning of summer. The female guards and incubates the eggs for 2 months.
The eggs are well protected in 2-4 feet of water under the stones. They are protected by a gelatinous substance that also helps them to stick to objects. Some of them may not develop limbs till they grow up to 8 inches. The average lifespan of these creatures in the wild is 11 years.
They generally fall victim to the larger aquatic predators such as turtles, large fish and water snakes. Though they are among the top predators in their eco-system they too fall prey to bigger predatory animals. Even fishermen have been recorded to catch these creatures in large numbers, which is reducing their population.
They are harmless marine animals. However, their striking colorful skin, makes them seem poisonous and so, they are killed by humans. They mainly live in streams and ponds, but its contamination is causing a loss of habitat and harming them. Therefore, efforts must be taken to protect these creatures.