Laona Heights Sugar River Colored Sands Sugar River Two Rivers Ferguson Hartley Memorial Trask Bridge Four Lakes Pecatonica River Pecatonica Wetlands Crooked River Grove Creek Seward Bluffs Klehm Forest Preserve Severson Dells Fuller Memorial Cedar Cliff Indian Hill Hinchliff Memorial Kilbuck Bluffs Trailside Kishwaukee Gorge South Kishwaukee Gorge North Rockford Rotary Kishwaukee River Oak Ridge Blackhawk Springs Deer Run Espenscheid Memorial McKiski County Line Kieselburg Roland Olson Stone Bridge Clayton Andrews Ledges Hononegah J. Norman Jensen Millrace Isle Macktown Atwood Homestead Forest Preserve Headquarters

Salamanders, Newts and Mudpuppies

Salamanders, newts and mudpuppies have slender bodies, long tails, short noses and four limbs. They are carnivores that eat animals like insects, earthworms and snails.

Salamanders, newts and mudpuppies belong to three different families in the order Caudata, and each has different stages of development. Salamanders have two stages: aquatic tadpole and terrestrial adult. Adult salamanders spend most of their time on land underground and return to the water only to breed. Newts have three stages: aquatic tadpole, terrestrial juvenile, which is called an “eft,” and aquatic adult, although some individuals may completely bypass the eft stage. Once adults, newts rarely return to land. Mudpuppies have one stage: aquatic. All adult mudpuppies have prominent gills even as adults.

Five native Caudata live in Winnebago County: the blue-spotted salamander (Ambystoma laterale), tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum), spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum), and mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus) and the very rare eastern newt (Notophthalmus viridescens).

In early spring, blue-spotted salamanders emerge from their winter hiding places and move to nearby temporary vernal ponds to breed. Vernal pools fill when spring arrives, then dry up again by early summer, and are very important to the life cycle of many amphibians. Often impacted by development, vernal pools – and the species that depend on them – are rapidly disappearing.