The Siren genus is a group of aquatic salamanders that belong to the family Sirenidae.
These salamanders have elongated, eel-like bodies and two small vestigial forelegs.
There are three living species, along with one extinct species from the Eocene Epoch and three from the Miocene.
What Are the Living Species of Siren?
There are three living species of Siren:
- Siren intermedia – Lesser Siren,
- Siren lacertina – Greater Siren, and
- Siren reticulata – Reticulated Siren or Leopard Eel.
The Lesser Siren (Siren intermedia) is found from South Carolina to Texas and in the Mississippi River valley northward to Illinois and southeastern Wisconsin.
It’s about 7.1 to 25.6 inches (18 to 65 cm) long.
The Greater Siren (Siren lacertina) is 20 to 35 inches (50 to 90 cm) long and occurs in the Atlantic coastal states of the United States from Delaware southward to Florida and westward to northern Mexico.
The Reticulated Siren (Siren reticulata) is roughly 24 inches (61 cm) long and is found in shallow marshlands from Alabama through Florida’s panhandle.
What Are the Extinct Species of Siren?
There are four extinct species of Siren:
- Siren dunni,
- Siren hesterna,
- Siren miotexana, and
- Siren simpsoni.
What Do Sirens Look Like?
Sirens have long slender bodies that resemble eels and are usually brown, dark gray, or greenish in color.
Their forelegs are tiny, and they don’t have hind legs or a pelvis. Both young and adult sirens have feathery gills.
Where Do Sirens Live?
Sirens live in the water and usually burrow in mud at the bottom of marshes or streams, or hide among water plants or stones.
Sometimes, they may venture onto dry land for brief periods.
What Do Sirens Eat?
Sirens mostly eat aquatic insects and other invertebrates, which they catch at night.
How Do Sirens Reproduce?
Sirens mate in the water and lay eggs singly or in batches on the leaves of water plants.
It’s not known whether fertilization is internal or external.
The young develop into adults without undergoing metamorphosis or radical physical change.
What Is the Lifespan of A Siren?
Some Sirens can live at least 25 years or longer in captivity.
What Are the Dwarf Sirens?
Dwarf Sirens are two species of aquatic salamanders that are closely related to the Siren genus.
They are part of the family Sirenidae and are found in waterways from southern South Carolina to northern Florida.
- Dwarf siren (Pseudobranchus striatus) – 3.9 to 8.7 inches (10 to 22 cm) long
- Narrow-striped Dwarf Siren (Pseudobranchus axanthus) – inhabits similar habitat across peninsular Florida