Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Salamander Spotlight #1 - LESSER SIREN (Siren intermedia)

* This post is for my friend Mark, whose dedication to troubled salamanders is well known in herpetological psychology circles.

The Lesser Siren is a completely aquatic salamander, that retains its external gills through adulthood. They feed on a variety of aquatic invertebrates and small vertebrates.

The long slender body of the Siren has led to names like "Mud Eel". The Siren, unlike eels, do have a pair of small front legs, but no hind legs.

Sirens are widely distributed through the Eastern U.S. and Northern Mexico, yet are seldom seen. They prefer to dwell in the muddy bottoms and tangles of dense aquatic vegetation of small bodies of fresh water.

Siren intermedia wuv you!!! It is believed that their love for each other can be quite violent though, as courtship related abrasions and injuries are sometimes observed. They may also be rather vehement in the defense of their eggs, as the female stays with them until hatching.

An unfortunate Lesser Siren falling prey to a Great Blue Heron

A researcher carefully studies slimy sirens, which can actually deliver nasty bites with their sharp bony untoothed jaws. Lesser Sirens may reach up to about a foot long.

The hatchling larval Siren hiding in floating water plants is only half an inch in length, and display rather more fanciful external gills.

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