blue-spotted salamander

(Ambystoma laterale)

Conservation Status
blue-spotted salamander
Photo by Dallas Barber
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern


N5 - Secure

S5 - Secure


not listed


Blue-spotted salamander is a medium-sized, very cold-tolerant, mole salamander. It occurs in the northern United States and southern Canada from Quebec and New Jersey in the east to Iowa and eastern Manitoba in the west. In Minnesota it is common in the northeast and there are scattered populations in remnant forests in the south. It is found in flat forested areas with permanent ponds. It is often discovered under logs.

Adults are 3 to 5 (7.6 cm to 12.9 cm) long. Females are slightly larger than males.

The body is stout with four well-developed limbs that project sidewards. The trunk is cylindrical. The tail is broad and oval at the base, becoming cylindrical as it approaches the tip. It is long, comprising about 40% of the salamander’s total length. The skin is soft, moist, and dark brown, black, or bluish-black. There are numerous pale blue or bluish-white spots and flecks on the lower sides of the trunk and tail, fewer or absent on the upper (dorsal) surface. There are usually 12 or 13, sometimes 14, prominent vertical depressions (costal grooves) on each side between the forelimbs and the ventral area. The belly is usually lighter and flecked. The vent is black.

The head is moderately large, distinctly wider than the neck.

The legs are relatively short but the toes are relatively long (compared to other salamanders).

Juveniles are dark brown. They have yellowish blotches on the back and a yellow stripe on each side.




3 to 5 (7.6 cm to 12.9 cm)


Similar Species


Forests and wetlands




The adult spends most of the year under a log or other cover. When threatened it holds its tail up and curved over the body. Small, granular glands, concentrated mostly on the tail, exude a milky, unpleasant tasting liquid in response to a predator.






Life Cycle


Breeding occurs in April in small woodland ponds and ditches. The female lays eggs individually or in groups of 2 to 4, attaching them to leaves or other debris at the bottom of the pond. The eggs hatch in about a month.

Adults are not freeze tolerant. It is thought that they burrow below the frost line to overwinter.


Larva Food


Insects, mosquito and other insect larvae, water fleas, copepods, and other small aquatic invertebrates.


Adult Food


Earthworms, beetles, spiders, centipedes, snails, slugs, and other invertebrates.


Distribution Map



4, 14, 24, 29, 30, 76, 78.





  Class Amphibia (amphibians)  
  Superorder Batrachia (frogs and salamanders)  
  Order Caudata (salamanders)  
  Suborder Salamandroidea (mole salamanders)  


Ambystomatidae (mole salamanders)  


Ambystoma (mole salamanders)  

Disagreement persists about the use of the names Caudata and Urodela for the order of salamanders. Some authors use Caudata for the crown group and Urodela for the total group. Currently (2023), most authors use Urodela for the crown group and Caudata for the total group.


Subordinate Taxa






Ambystoma nothagenes

Ambystoma platineum

Ambystoma tremblayi

Amblystoma laterale


Common Names


blue-spotted salamander





















Visitor Photos

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Finley Beck


small, ~3” long

    blue-spotted salamander      


    blue-spotted salamander      


    blue-spotted salamander      

David Scott


I found 4 of them under a tarp in my sand floor of a pole barn. All were the same size. About 3 inches long.

  blue-spotted salamander  

Dallas Barber

    blue-spotted salamander   blue-spotted salamander  
    blue-spotted salamander      










Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Blue-spotted Salamander (Ambystomatidae: Ambystoma laterale) on Sand
Carl Barrentine

Published on Sep 9, 2010

Photographed at the Concordia Language Villages, Bemidji, Minnesota (07 September 2010).

  Blue-spotted Salamander (Ambystoma laterale) 10/4/15 Wisconsin Dells

Published on Oct 4, 2015

Look who I met under my boat today a pair of Blue-spotted Salamanders (Ambystoma laterale) This is a relatively slender blue-black salamander with whitish or blue spots on its back. It has four toes on its front feet and five on its hind feet. The costal (rib) grooves are very pronounced along the body between the front and rear legs. A triploid variant of this species, consisting exclusively of females, is found in parts of northern Wisconsin. The variants tend to be longer and paler than the blue-spotted salamanders. Blue-spotted salamanders prefer both northern and southern hardwoods and coniferous forests. They are often abundant in lowland hardwood forests. They tolerate dryer conditions than most Wisconsin salamanders, often living in forests with sandy soils. Adults eat many types of invertebrates including earthworms and insects.

Blue-spotted Salamander (Ambystoma laterale) 10/4/15 Wisconsin Dells Latest Reports

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Blue-spotted Salamander (Ambystoma laterale) 10/4/15 Wisconsin Dells

  Blue-Spotted Salamander - Wild ID
American Wilderness

Published on May 27, 2016

We wanted to show you some of the cool blue-spotted salamanders (Ambystoma laterale) we found recently in Wisconsin.

In this series, we show you species that you could easily encounter in the outdoors, and how you can identify them.

Wild ID

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Visitor Sightings

Report a sighting of this amphibian.

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Be sure to include a location.

Finley Beck

Location: By Moose Lake, nothern Itasca County

small, ~3” long

blue-spotted salamander  

Location: Mantrap Township (Paul Bunyon State Forest)

blue-spotted salamander  

Location: Crow Wing County, Paul Bunyan State Trail

blue-spotted salamander  

Location: Nashwauk, MN


Location: Willow River, MN (Pine County)

  David Scott

Location: Watersmeet MI

I found 4 of them under a tarp in my sand floor of a pole barn.  All were the same size.  About 3 inches long. 

blue-spotted salamander  
  Dallas Barber

Location: Mower County

blue-spotted salamander  






Created: 9/15/2019

Last Updated:

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