The Mudpuppy, also called a waterdog is actually a salamander, of a much larger size, and one of the few that actually make noise, which is what gives them their name.

The squeaky sound they make sounds like the barking of a small dog. Having caught these and released them in swiftly flowing Pennsylvania streams, as children we were fascinated by the noise.

The secretive Mudpuppy hides under rocks or logs beneath the water
The secretive Mudpuppy hides under rocks or logs beneath the water

Mudpuppies, are among the largest salamander that’s exist and can be about a foot and a half long, although they are usually just about a foot.

Their habitat and range are quite broad, they can be found from southern Canada, through Pennsylvania, New York, down into the Midwest and East to North Carolina and Virginia on the coast, as well as into Georgia and Mississippi.

They live on the bottom of lakes and ponds as well as rivers and streams where they hide in sunken vegetation, under rocks or logs, and under bank edges. Mudpuppies never leave the water, but live and breed there.

They remain hidden all the time, with the exception of nighttime when they emerge to feed and hunt whatever prey they can catch, including crayfish, worms, and snails.

Its easy enough to determine if what you have is a mudpuppy, because they have flat heads, very wide flat tails, short stubby legs and the most amazing gills, which are bright red and very bushy. Their bodies are gray or brownish-gray with blue-black spots.

One breeding trait sets them apart from all other salamanders. The female will lay a very large clutch of eggs and stays to guard it, nesting with the eggs until they hatch, something no other salamander does.

Mudpuppies are common everywhere throughout their very wide range and have no special conservation status.

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