Fun Facts

Photo Credit: Kirsten Hecht

The aquatic salamander family Proteidae

has 6 species. All members have

external gills, a juvenile trait, their entire

lives and are therefore called paedomorphic. One species, called the Olm (Proteus anguinus) is a European cave dwelling species. The other five species live in the Eastern United States and have keeled tails and four toes on all four feet. The Common Mudpuppy, which can reach total lengths of ~19" (50 cm), is the largest member of the family. Waterdogs, generally reach smaller sizes of 7-10 inches. (~20-25 cm).

The Common Mudpuppy lives across eastern portions of Canada and the United States. They reside in a wide range of habitats including ponds, lakes, reservoirs, and streams. Mudpuppies have been found at many depths from shallow streams to 100 feet (30 m) in larger lakes and reservoirs. During the day Mudpuppies find cover under shelters like rocks logs, and leaves. They aren't picky eaters and have been known to eat crayfish, aquatic insects, fish, molluscs, and other amphibians.

There is little information about the historical or current status of the Mudpuppy. In the past, Mudpuppies were believed to be very abundant. In some places, hundreds of Mudpuppies could be caught in a single day. Although the species appears to still be relatively common in some areas, they are protected or of concern in several states. Researchers have reported suspected declines in several places. Potential threats to this species include the use of lampricide in the Great Lakes region, incidental capture by fishermen, collection for the biological supply company, habitat loss and degradation, and pollution.

Waterdogs and Mudpuppy

Common Mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus)

Gulf Coast Waterdog (Necturus beyeri)

  • Mudpuppies are known to squeak when in danger.

  • Female Mudpuppies guard their eggs from predators.

  • The genus Necturus means swimming tail.

  • Mudpuppies are not bothered the cold and are active in winter. They are regularly caught by ice fishermen.

  • Mudpuppies can live at least 30 years. 

Photo Credit: Kirsten Hecht

Photo Credit: Stephen Nelson

Mudpuppy nest found in Tennessee

 Common Mudpuppy

(Necturus maculosus)