Click for more images


Necturus maculosus

Family: Proteidae

The subspecies of the Mudpuppy that occurs in Canada is the Common Mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus maculosus).

COSEWIC status:
  • Not at Risk
SARA status:
  • No Status
IUCN status:
  • Least Concern


The Mudpuppy is grey to rusty brown with dark blue spots and a grey belly. It has red, feathery external gills and only four toes on both the front and hind feet. Juveniles range in colour from orange to black with longitudinal yellow stripes. The mudpuppy can grow to 50 cm in total length, although the average length is 30 cm. Aquatic larvae have feathery gills behind the head, legs (both front and back), a tail fin, a black line down the back and a yellow line down each side.

Similar Species

Given their large size, Mudpuppies cannot be confused with any other salamander in eastern Canada. Juveniles can be confused with the larvae of other species such as the Northern Two-lined Salamander.


Click for larger image

In Canada, the Mudpuppy occurs in south-eastern Manitoba, southern Ontario, and southern Quebec. In the United States, it occurs throughout the Great Lakes basin, south to Louisiana.


Mudpuppies occur in lakes, rivers, streams and other large bodies of water. They have been found in muddy, weed-choked streams and up to 30 metres below the surface of Lake Michigan. During the day, mudpuppies usually hide under rocks.


The Mudpuppy breeds in the spring. In May or June, the female lays 30–190 eggs on the underside of submerged rocks or logs and guards the eggs for about two months until they hatch. The larvae are approximately 2 cm long when they hatch and take four to six years to reach maturity. Mudpuppies are primarily nocturnal. They are carnivorous and forage year-round for worms, fish eggs, aquatic insects, crayfish and small fish. Individuals that survive to adulthood have few natural enemies and can live for over 30 years.


Pollution, such as herbicides, agricultural effluent and road salt, can be detrimental to salamander populations by causing direct mortality as well as developmental deformities. Research on Mudpuppies in the St Lawrence River has found high levels of PCBs and organochlorine pesticides in their eggs. At one site along the St Lawrence, over 60% of the Mudpuppies examined had limb deformities: missing toes, extra toes, or other deformities. Chemicals used to kill Sea Lamprey are also lethal to Mudpuppies. Large die-offs of Mudpuppies have been reported, possibly due to septicemia or botulism. Mudpuppies are regularly caught by ice fishermen and are often left on the ice to freeze to death.

Additional Information About This Species In Canada