While visiting southern Illinois, I came across the largest land dwelling salamander in North America. It generally grows to be between 7 and 8-1/2 inches in length, but can reach up to 13 inches.
The Eastern Tiger Salamander is stocky with sturdy limbs and a long tail. Its body color is dark brown (almost black) and irregularly marked with yellow-to-olive colored blotches.
Belonging to the family known as Mole Salamanders, Tiger Salamanders are fossorial, spending much of their lives underground, feeding on worms, snails, insects and slugs.
These salamanders migrate to breeding ponds in late Winter or early Spring. One to two days after courtship, a female lays up to a hundred eggs, which hatch about four weeks later. The larvae stay in the pond for 3 to 5 months before emerging to live on the land.
Eastern Tiger Salamanders are the most widely distributed salamander in North America and can be found in habitats ranging from woodlands to open fields to marshy areas.