Buckeye Herps Blog

A photographic journal of the reptiles and amphibians of Ohio, Michigan and other places interesting wildlife call home.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Wolverine Waterdogs!

Necturus are a fascinating genus, and finding one is enough to make any herpers day.

Shortly after moving to SW Michigan, my buddy Carl had emailed me a newspaper story that was very tantalizing... The Detroit Police dive team had been removing old cars from the Detroit River downtown.

"a moped and -- eventually -- the Buick and a 10-inch mud puppy that crawled from it on shore."

Full story if interested

I had heard reports of Necturus being found along the shore of the Great Lakes, ice fisherman pulling them up in the winter, LE water snakes regurgitating them when caught, etc. But how do you go about actually searching for one in such large bodies of water?

Well, I was lucky enough to find out. We found 6 mudpups in a few hours of searching the 42F water.

Necturus maculosus

Mudpuppies are large salamanders, that remain permanently acquatic throughout their lives. They retain their gills, similar to larval form of other salamanders. They can grow quite large, although all the ones we found were small individuals, 1-2 years old. In Ohio I typically caught them in shallow streams with large flat rocks. Here in Michigan they are found in inland lakes, the great lakes, and other rivers/streams. They are completely harmless to human, despite that many fisherman still persecute them when caught or seen.

Here is an older picture of an adult from Ohio.

Even Cid got in on the fun.



  1. Hi Jason. Kudos! How clear was the water and what was the substrate like?

    David O

  2. David - The water was fairly clear near the shore, if you look closely you can get a decent idea of the visibility, especially in the shallows. All of the pictures on the rocks were using water straight out of the spots. The substrate was sandy soil and small gravel. There were larger rocks to flip and check under.

    Take care - BH

  3. Interesting animals. Do you know the status of their populations?

  4. It is fascinating to see their external gills. They seem so vulnerable - a mudpuppy's life must be interesting indeed.

  5. Hi Buckeyherper,

    My name is Ava and I'm the blog moderator for Reptile Forums (http://www.reptileforums.co.uk) I am interested in interviewing you for our blog. how do I get in contact? Please e-mail me at Charismaqueen100@gmail.com.

    Thank you.

  6. Thanks for the comments everyone. I hope to have more to share soon, but have been having some bad computer/photo issues lately coupled with a lack of time in the field.

    Ted - Hard to say, mainly because they can be difficult to survey. I would guess they, like all amphibians are not doing well. It seems they have some strongholds (the great lakes) but I have searched many great looking Ohio streams with little success. Farming runoff, increase in silt and pesticides/herbicides likely affect the river populations much more.

    Amber - I wish I understood them more...

    Ava - I will try and contact you in the next day or two.