Common Name: Ringed Salamander
Scientific Name: Ambystoma annulatum
Family: Ambystomatidae – Mole Salamander family
Locations: Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma
Size: 10 inches (25.4 cm) max, generally 5.5 to 7 inches (14 – 18 cm)
The Ringed Salamander lives in the Ozark Plateau and Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. Like most salamanders of the family Ambystomatidae, they spend most of their time hidden under ground, leaves, or logs. This is called a fossorial lifestyle. People refer to the family as the mole salamanders, due to their burrowing nature. Their diet includes earthworms, insects, and snails.
Ringed Salamander Mating
The best time to see the Ringed Salamander is in fall from September to November, when they come out to breed. October is the best month to see them. This is when they are the most active breeding. Hundreds of individuals come to shallow, fish-less ponds to avoid any predators. Once courtship occurs, the male releases a spermatophore on the bottom of the pond. Then, the female picks it up with her cloaca. Finally, the female lays her eggs a few days later. The females lays between 5 and 40 eggs on the bottom of the pond. The mother provides no care for her offspring. Eggs hatch anywhere from 9 to 16 days. The larval salamander will stay in the pond for 6 – 8 months (May to June) before completing its metamorphosis. Then, they move to land.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Ringed Salamander as Least Concern for Extinction. The IUCN Red List justifies this by stating that the salamander has wide distribution and presumed large population. They assume the population is greater than 10,000 individuals and stable. The state of Oklahoma categorizes the salamander as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need. In Missouri, they are a Species of Conservation Need. People want to fill up their ponds to make room for houses or commercial areas. Better protections of their habitat is needed to keep the Ringed Salamander from becoming endangered.