Two-toed Amphiuma
Amphiuma means

Common Name:

Two-toed Amphiuma

Scientific Name:

Amphiuma means



amphi is Greek and means "on both sides",  pneuma is Greek meaning "breathe". This refers to a misconception  that the salamander can breathe both air and water.


means has no decisive meaning. It is thought to refer to the temperament of the animal or perhaps in honor of some unknown person named Mean.

Average Length:

14.5 - 30 in. (36.8 - 76 cm)

Virginia Record Length:

Record length:

45.8 in. (116.2 cm)

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: This is a large, dark, semi-aquatic animal *1102,3640*. It has a long cylindrical, eel-like body with 2 sets of virtually functionless limbs, capable of slow, awkward movement over swampy land *1102,1004,1008,3640, 882,3641* with 2 toes on each foot *1102,2130*. It has a large head with small, lidless eyes *1004,1008,3641*. They have an incomplete metamorphosis, wherein the gills are lost but a pair of gill slits remain *3639,3641,1102*. There are 57-60 costal grooves *3639*. This species utilizes a set of sensory pits similar to lateral line of fish to detect vibrations in the water *1102, 1008*. Sex determination is through the appearance of the vent. The male's is surrounded by a narrow ridge, the inner surface towards the front lined with oblique ridges. The female's vent is a narrow slit. This species is from 3-5 feet long *1102,1008,3640,882,2130,3639,3638*.

REPRODUCTION: There are 42-150 eggs laid. They spawn from May-October *3638, 1008,3641*. The eggs are likely laid in water, but where the water levels recede as the seasons change, thus females guarding eggs are often found on land. *11305* The females construct a shallow depression, in which to lay the eggs, and this depression is usually in or around logs and/or tree roots. *11305,1102,1008* The eggs resemble a beaded string *1102,3638,3641*. The female coils around and guards the eggs until they hatch *11305,1102,3638,1008,3641*. Incubation lasts 30-70 days *3638*, and the larvae are about 2 inches long at hatching, with short white gills *1102,1008,3641*. The larvae transform at about 3 inches *1102,09,3641*. Internal fertilization and cloacal contact is utilized *1008*.

BEHAVIOR: This species is sensitive to ultra-violet light *1102*. It is nocturnal, and retreats to the lair in bottom mud or debris during the day *1102,3639,882,3641*. They hibernate through the winter *1008*.

ORIGIN: This species is native *1102,3637,3639*. Population parameters: This species is lives up to 27 years in captivity *1102,3638*. It hybridizes with A. tridactylum *2130*.

References for Life History

  • 882 - Conant, R., 1958, A field guide to reptiles and amphibians of the United States and Canada east of the 100th Meridian, 366 pgs., Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, MA
  • 1004 - Holbrook, J.E., 1976, North American Herpetology, Reprint Edition., Vol. 5, 118 pgs., Soc. Study Amphibians and Reptiles, Lawrence, KS
  • 1008 - Barbour, R.W., 1971, Amphibians and reptiles of Kentucky, 334 pgs., Univ. of Kentucky Press, Lexington, KY
  • 1102 - Cochran, D.M., C.J. Goin, 1970, The new field book of reptiles and amphibians, 359 pgs., G.P. Putman's Sons, NY
  • 2130 - Blair, W.F., A.P. Blair, P. Brodkorb, F.R. Cagle, G.W. Moore, 1957, Vertebrates of the United States, 819 pgs., McGraw-Hill Book Co., Inc., NY
  • 3637 - Stejneger, L., T. Barbour, 1939, A checklist of North American amphibians and reptiles, 4th edition, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • 3638 - Oliver, J.A., 3 (Ed.), The natural history of North American amphibians and reptiles, 359 pgs., D. Van Nostrand Co., Inc.
  • 3639 - Smith, H.M., 1978, Amphibians of North America, 160 pgs., Golden Press, New York
  • 3640 - Morris, P.A., 1974, An introduction to the Reptiles and Amphibians of the United States., 250 pgs., Dover Publications, Inc., New York
  • 3641 - Bishop, S.C., 1927, The Amphibians and Reptiles of Alleghany State Park, New York State Museum Handbook No. 3, University of the State of New York, Albany, NY
  • 11305 - Petranka, J.W., 1998, Salamanders of the United States and Canada, 587 pp. pgs., Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC


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