Jefferson Salamander


As a young larva the Jefferson salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum) is yellowish green with dark spots on their backs. As this nocturnal creature gets older they turn greenish grey and move from the water onto the land. Finally, as adults they turn grey and pick up blue speckles on their sides. This can lead to confusion because their blue spots get them mistaken for the blue-spotted salamander.

Did you know… the Jefferson salamander can shed its tail when threatened? The muscles in the detached tail twitch, distracting the attacker and giving them a chance to get away!

Jefferson salamander, spotted salamander
Jefferson salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum) and a spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum)

This salamander also uses such defence tactics as the dreaded ooze and the body-flip! Jefferson salamanders can produce toxic ooze that comes from skin glands at the base of their tail. Sometimes they will curl their head under their tail forming a coil, from this position they can flip their bodies.

Jefferson salamanders are pretty picky about where they live and they won’t move more than a mile from their birthplace. This makes it even more important for us to protect their habitat because they can’t simply pick a new home.

Status: The Jefferson salamander is considered threatened throughout Ontario and across Canada.


These little guys live in the deciduous forest of North America. Its habitat extends from New England to Maryland and Illinois. In Canada, it can only be found in Ontario. Happy Valley Forest is an excellent example of their habitat. It is filled with maple-beech trees and ponds, even wooded swamps and wet meadows, everything the Jefferson salamander loves!

male jefferson salamander
male jefferson salamander


HABITAT LOSS is the biggest threat to the Jefferson salamander’s survival. Their homes are disappearing because of:

  • The development of buildings, trails and roads
  • Logging and wood harvesting
  • Reckless off-roading and other outdoor activities
  • Introduction of fish to breeding grounds
female jefferson salamnder
Female Jefferson Salamander

Take Action!

Since these guys like to live in certain environments they make excellent judges of an ecosystem’s health making it extra important for us to protect them. Here are some things you can do to help:

  • Start a Bring Back the Wild™ campaign and help protect the Jefferson salamander and its habitat in the Happy Valley Forest!
  • Make sure to use both sides of a piece of paper, recycle it when you are done and try to buy paper products made from recycled materials to help reduce deforestation.
  • When you are out exploring the forest leave no trace by obeying park signs, sticking to trails and properly disposing of your garbage.
  • Learn more about how keeping certain roads car free during the Jefferson salamander’s breeding season can help protect them.

Earth Rangers is a non-profit organization that works to inspire and educate children about the environment. At kids can play games, discover amazing facts, meet animal ambassadors and fundraise to protect biodiversity.



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