Necturus (Mudpuppies) – Some Fascinating Facts


Necturus is a genus of water-loving salamanders that belong to the Proteidae family.

These creatures are commonly known as Waterdogs and Mudpuppies. They are found in the eastern United States and Canada.

The most famous species in this group is the Common Mudpuppy (N. maculosus), which is often studied in science classes because it has gill slits like a fish.

What Is the Taxonomy of Necturus?

The classification of the Necturus genus is still being studied by experts.

Some scientists have suggested that certain species should be given their own separate names.

For example, in 1991, a scientist named Collins suggested that the N. maculosus louisianensis should be called N. louisianensis, but not everyone agreed.

More research is needed to fully understand the relationships between the different species in this group.

What Are the Different Species of Necturus?

There are seven to eight known species of Necturus:

  1. Necturus alabamensis – Alabama Waterdog,
  2. Necturus beyeri – Western Waterdog or Mobile Mudpuppy,
  3. Necturus lewisi – Neuse River Waterdog,
  4. Necturus louisianensis – Red River Waterdog (sometimes considered a subspecies of N. maculosus),
  5. Necturus maculosus – Common Mudpuppy,
  6. Necturus moleri – Apalachicola Waterdog,
  7. Necturus mounti – Escambia Waterdog, and
  8. Necturus punctatus – Dwarf Waterdog

There are also two known fossil species, N. krausei, and an unnamed species, found in the Paleocene of Saskatchewan and in Florida during the Pleistocene.

What Do Necturus Look Like?

Necturus salamanders keep their baby-like features even when they grow up. They have gills on the outside of their bodies, two pairs of gill slits, and no eyelids.

They are medium-sized, with strong legs and a flat, wide tail. They have small lungs, so they mostly breathe using their gills.

Adult Necturus usually grow to be 8 to 10 inches long, but the common mudpuppy can get even bigger, up to 16 inches.

The Common Mudpuppy has a brown or gray back with black spots and dark red, bushy gills.

How Do Necturus Reproduce?

Female Necturus lay their eggs under rocks and other hiding places in the late spring and early summer. They guard their nests until the eggs hatch.

While guarding the nest, females will look for food, but sometimes they may eat some of their own eggs if they can’t find enough food.

After hatching, the baby Necturus are called larvae, and they stay under the rock until November.

What Is the Ecology of Necturus?

Necturus salamanders live in clear water, usually with rocky bottoms and no mud.

The Common Mudpuppy is found in lakes, rivers, streams, and creeks. They prefer shallow waters with cool temperatures from fall to early spring.

They are most active when the water is between 48°F and 68°F.

During the day, Necturus hide under rocks, logs, and plants. At night, they come out to look for food.

Their favorite food is crayfish, but they will also eat fish in the winter and spring.

Necturus can help us understand the health of the water they live in. If there are problems with the water, like pollution or too much dirt, it can harm the Necturus.

There is a fungus called Bd that can make captive Necturus sick, but we don’t know if it affects wild Necturus yet.

Scientific Classification

Scientific Name:Necturus
Also Known As:Mudpuppy, Waterdog

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