The spotted salamander has acquired many adaptations throughout history as well as during its individual life. When salamanders first hatch in a pond, they are adapted completely for an aquatic environment. They hatch with external gills on the sides of their heads, a tail, and no visible legs,  appearing similar to a minnow. They eat mainly zooplankton, other larvae and aquatic insects . Over time legs develop and they lose their external gills, along with an elongation and thickening of the tail. As they mature, they start to look more and more like an adult salamander.  To learn more about the reproduction and larval state, click here. Once the larvae have completely developed they’re set for a carnivorous terrestrial life style. Their eyes are adapted to work best in low light levels, similar to the burrows they hunt and reside in. If a salamander does venture out at night and encounters another salamander or predator, it will wave its tail above its head while secreting a milky toxin from glands on its tail.



Continue on to see what the salamander eats on the nutrition page!

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