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Necturus maculosus

a_Mudpuppy_A-3803-DP_ABS.jpegPhoto Credit: A.B. Sheldon

Family: Proteidae (Mudpuppies and waterdogs)
Status: Common
Size: 12 to 16 inches

The mudpuppy is Wisconsin's largest and only aquatic salamander. Its permanent deep-red gills are very bushy and feather-like. The dorsal color is rusty-brown or grayish with scattered dark spots. Occasionally, individuals are a dark bluish-black with fine brown speckling. They have four toes on each foot and the tail is finned.


Species range (darker) in Wisconsin

Mudpuppies live in lakes and rivers, preferring large flat rock microhabitats although large riprap (piled boulders) may also be used. They also use eroded holes within clay lenses in submerged riverbanks. The mudpuppy is host to the state-endangered salamander mussel, which would presumably go extinct if the mudpuppy was eliminated. Mudpuppies feed on aquatic invertebrates including worms, small fish and other amphibians. The rumor that mudpuppies are poisonous is false.