Saturday, September 27, 2008

Three little friends

Not sure how long they'll be staying with me, depends if they'll eat well. The dirt already has worms and lots of little bugs, and I found someone selling mealworms, so we'll see.

Introducing the three most adorable blue spotted salamanders you'll ever see:
Ambystoma laterale

(Don't mind my dirty hands... I was just setting up their tank)

What's awesome about these salamanders is that they hybridize with another very similar looking salamander: the Jefferson's salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum) . I have several of them (I think) as pets that I've had for nearly 11 years now.

The Jefferson's salamander is overall duller black/blueish/gray, and spots only appear lightly splattered along the sides and belly. They are also larger/longer than the blue spotted.

However, the hybrid version may be quite similar to either species and unable to be correctly identified without genetic testing. They're a very unusual type of animal, being triploid (sets of three chromosomes, instead of just two). They can either have two Jefferson's and one blue spotted chromosome, or two blue spotted and one Jefferson's chromosome for each set (one individual will have only one of the two combinations). Therefore there are hybrids that have lots of blue spots, and hybrids that have less spots, and of course they all vary in size.

So... my best guess is that these are blue spotteds, however, there's always the possibility that they're hybrid, as I've caught what appeared to be Jefferson's salamanders in the same area before. The salamanders I caught back home that still live with my parents look more like the Jefferson's, but I'm inclined to think they're hybrids.

I'd love to find someone at my university that could help me do genetic tests on them to look at the chromosomes and cell sizes, I'll let you know if that ever works out.


kim* said...

i bet they are so happy with you :)

Mayhem said...

I ♥ Salamanders! soo cute!

LoveMeKnot Creations said...

you make slimy bugs and animals cute to me WBL :)

Enami Eyes said...

Oh, great find!!! I hope they eat for you. I used to feed my efts live blood worms. I loved when they'd notice the food and instantly perk up, head held high as they'd set up to snap up the little worms... hehe.

Kylie B said...

Oh wow soo cute I have never seen them b4!

Beadbug00 said...

Those little guys are super cute !!

The Great Ethan Allen said...

SOoo cool ! Salamanders are very cool! had a tiger one once. was a great pet.