Ambystoma opacum
Marbled Salamander
Subgenus: Xiphonura
family: Ambystomatidae

Jason Gibson
© 2003 Jason Gibson (1 of 113)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status Least Concern (LC)
NatureServe Status Use NatureServe Explorer to see status.
Other International Status None
National Status None
Regional Status None


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This salamander is sexually dimorphic. Both males and females have black dorsal ground coloring; the bands on the female are gray or silver, while those on the male are white. The sides and the venter are black as well. They are generally short-tailed, stocky, and broad-headed (Bartlett & Bartlett 1999).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: United States

U.S. state distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia


View distribution map using BerkeleyMapper.

The general distribution of the marbled salamander spans from southern New Hampshire and central Massachusetts, central Pennsylvania west to south Illinois, south Missouri and east Texas, south to north Florida.

A. opacum inhabits sandy and gravelly areas of mixed deciduous woodlands (especially oak-maple and oak-hickory).

They require ponds or swamps in wooded areas for breeding, and during the breeding season, they can be found under logs and rocks - areas that are generally drier (DeGraaf & Rudis 1983).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

A. opacum start to migrate to their breeding areas in the fall (generally in September). An average of 100 egss are laid in shallow depressions under surface material. They are then washed into the water to hatch. The eggs hatch at different times under different conditions. If the eggs are submerged, they will hatch in the fall or early winter. If there is no rain, the eggs will hatch in the spring. The larval period is affected by differing conditions as well. If the eggs hatch in the spring, their metamorphosis will be slower, transforming into their terrestrial form in late May to June. If there is a higher temperature and an abundance of food, metamorphosis will be hastened (DeGraaf & Rudis 1983).

Diet consists of arthropods, worms and mollusks. Larvae eat insects, crustaceans, and other small invertebrates. They can also be cannibalistic (DeGraaf & Rudis).


A. opacum is the most strongly dimorphic of the ambystomatids. They are capable of burrowing, but they prefer to remain closer to the surface except for seasons of extended drought (Bartlett & Bartlett 1999).


Bartlett, R. D., and Bartlett, P. P. (1999). A Field Guide to Texas Reptiles and Amphibians. Gulf Publishing Company, Houston, Texas.

DeGraaf, R. M. and Rudis, D. D. (1983). Amphibians and Reptiles of New England. The University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst.

Written by Theresa Ly (tea_ly AT, UC Berkeley URAP
First submitted 2000-01-17
Edited by Tate Tunstall (2013-03-18)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2013 Ambystoma opacum: Marbled Salamander <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Oct 19, 2017.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2017. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 19 Oct 2017.

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