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For Mudpuppies, Fall Is Crucial For Species' Survival

For most salamanders, spring is the season to get spruced up and travel to the ponds to find a mate. However, mudpuppies, along with a few others, are the exception to this rule.

A common mudpuppy. (Photo via Alamy)

First off, mudpuppies are fully aquatic and spend their whole lives in lakes, ponds and rivers. Also, their courtship and mating take place in the fall instead of the spring. The males will head to shallow waters to join females under rocks or logs. The males will dance in a circle around the female when he thinks he found “the one.”

It takes four to six years for mudpuppies to be mature enough to mate. At first glance, it might be hard for us to see this unusual salamander as attractive. However, once you read his dating profile, he will be sure to win over your heart! presents Mr. Mudpuppy

Age: 6

Length: 1 foot

Location: Lake Michigan

About me: I am a child at heart. Mudpuppies like me keep our childhood external feathery gills even in adulthood. I am also sensitive. Scientists say I am a bioindicator because I am sensitive to pollutants and water quality. I really prefer a clean and healthy lifestyle. I stay active all year long and consider myself a night owl because I like to sleep during the day.

Hobbies: I love the game hide and seek because I am well-camouflaged, using my brown splotchy appearance to hide with the gravel, rocks and silt on the bottom of the lake. I am also great at tag because you will never catch me. My flattened tail is built for swimming. Even if you could catch up, good luck holding onto my slimy skin.

The perfect date: I would take my date to my favorite hunting spot to eat all the crayfish our bellies can handle! This spot also has great specials, including worms, fish and amphibians. We will talk the night away because mudpuppies are one of the few salamanders that can make noise. I got the name mudpuppy because it was thought that we bark, but actually I will squeak your ear off discussing the local lake happenings.

Let’s help them out

Mr. Mudpuppy is just one of many mudpuppies looking for love this fall. They are state threatened in Illinois, so breeding season is crucial for this species. Come spring, females will dig a shallow nest under a flat rock or log and lay 30 to 200 eggs. Female mudpuppies will guard the nest for one to two months, until the eggs are ready to hatch. Newborns will stay near each other and their mothers. Eventually, mudpuppies will move out on their own, although scientists don’t know exactly when this happens.

To help mudpuppies, be sure to keep our lakes, ponds and rivers clean. If you catch one while fishing, handle it with care. Even though they are slimy, they are not poisonous or harmful. Remove it from the line and make sure to put it right back in the water. They were probably just trying to practice catching a meal for their perfect date!


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