Description of Notophthalmus viridescens
One of only a few species of Salamandridae that are native to North America. Larvae and adults live in small bodies of water in deciduous and coniferous forests. The larvae have laterally compressed tails, olive colored skin, and feathery gills. The larvae develop into terrestrial ‘eft’s that are up to 4.5 cms long and are reddish-orange with two rows of black-bordered red spots. The eft matures into a breeding adult after 2 or 3 years. The adult is dorsally yellowish- to greenish-brown with black-bordered red spots. Final size up to 12.4 cm. Hind legs enlarge during the breeding season as part of adaptations to amplexus. They produce up to 400 offspring, with a gestation period of up to 2 months. Carnivorous, larvae eat small invertebrates including water fleas, snails, and beetle larvae; efts eat small invertebrates, mainly those found in humus and leaf litter, including snails, spring tails, and soil mites; the adults eat mainly midge larva and other aquatic immature stages of insects. They will live up to 15 years. Predators include birds, mammals, fish, and other amphibians, however many of them are deterred by the newt's toxic skin secretions. Leech parasites also contribute to losses from the population.
Bibliography: Petranka, J. 1998. Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Washington, D.C., USA: Smithsonian Institution Press.