A Mudpuppy (common to Long Lake) is a large, aquatic salamander with a flat, square head, small eyes and distinctive a pair of feathery gills on either side of its head. The Mudpuppy name is thought to derive from either the external gills which are reminiscent of canine ears, or from the erroneous belief that they make vocalizations similar to those of a dog.
The smooth skin of the adult common mudpuppy can differ in coloration between red, black and grey-brown, with variable scattered blue-black spots across its back or occasionally faint stripes. The underside of the body is greyish and may also have dark spots. The juveniles have a highly distinctive pattern, with broad, dark stripes with yellow edges along the back.
The tail is short and flattened and the legs are short and slender, but well developed, with four toes on each foot. The size of an adult Mudpuppy is 8” – 12” (20 – 30 cm) long.
Mating between the common mudpuppy occurs between autumn and winter and the female lays between 40 to 150 eggs. The female guards the eggs until they hatch.
The common mudpuppy relies mostly on its sense of smell to detect prey composed mainly of aquatic salamanders or small fish and their eggs.
The common mudpuppy is active all year, although it is most active from late autumn to spring. It is primarily nocturnal, but may sometimes emerge during the day in habitats where the water is cloudy.
An entirely aquatic species, the common mudpuppy inhabits freshwater ponds, lakes, streams, canals, reservoirs and rivers. It lives close to the bottom where there are rocks and logs for shelter. The range of the common mudpuppy extends south from eastern Canada to northern Georgia in the USA.
The common mudpuppy is sometimes caught by fishermen then discarded onto land due to the false belief that it is poisonous or detrimental to the game fish population, which it is not.