Necturus maculosus - (Rafinesque, 1818)
Other English Common Names: mudpuppy
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Necturus maculosus (Rafinesque, 1818) (TSN 173630)
French Common Names: necture tacheté
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.102563
Element Code: AAAAE01040
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Amphibians - Salamanders
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Amphibia Caudata Proteidae Necturus
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
Check this box to expand all report sections:
Concept Reference
Concept Reference: Frost, D. R. 1985. Amphibian species of the world. A taxonomic and geographical reference. Allen Press, Inc., and The Association of Systematics Collections, Lawrence, Kansas. v + 732 pp.
Concept Reference Code: B85FRO01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Necturus maculosus
Taxonomic Comments: Genetically most closely related to N. beyeri and N. alabamensis (Guttman et al. 1990). Some authors have included in this species certain populations in the Black Warrior River drainage; those populations apparently comprise two species, N. alabamensis and an undescribed species (e.g., see Guttman et al. 1990). Subspecies louisianensis was proposed as a distinct species by Collins (1991, 1997), but supporting data are lacking. Petranka (1998) and Crother et al. (2000) treated louisianensis as a subspecies. See Maxson et al. (1988) for information on Necturus phylogeny based on albumin analysis.
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 10May2016
Global Status Last Changed: 30Oct2001
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Widespread in eastern North America; still abundant in many areas.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5 (05Nov1996)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N4N5 (05Jun2015)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (S4), Arkansas (S5), Connecticut (SNR), Georgia (S1), Illinois (S5), Indiana (S2), Iowa (S2), Kansas (S3), Kentucky (S4), Louisiana (S3), Maine (SNA), Maryland (S1), Massachusetts (SNA), Michigan (S5), Minnesota (SNR), Mississippi (S4), Missouri (SU), New Hampshire (SNA), New York (S4), North Carolina (S1), North Dakota (S4), Ohio (S4), Oklahoma (S3), Pennsylvania (S3S4), Rhode Island (SNA), South Dakota (SH), Tennessee (S5), Vermont (S2), Virginia (S2), West Virginia (S4), Wisconsin (S3S4)
Canada Manitoba (S3S4), Ontario (S4), Quebec (S4)

Other Statuses

Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC): Not at Risk (01May2000)
Comments on COSEWIC: Reason for Designation: This large aquatic salamander is adversely affected by industrial contaminants and sedimentation of waterways, yet remains widespread and is, as we now know, abundant.

Status History: Designated Not at Risk in May 2000. More recently (2015) considered a lhigh priority candidate for re-assessment.

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 200,000 to >2,500,000 square km (about 80,000 to >1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Southern Manitoba to southern Quebec, south to Oklahoma, northern Louisiana, northern Mississippi, northern Alamaba, and northern Georgia (Conant and Collins 1991). Absent from Coastal Plain. Introduced in New England rivers. See Cochran (1991) for information on distribution in the north-central U.S. in relation to postglacial events.

Number of Occurrences: 81 - 300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Represented by many and/or large occurrences throughout most of the range.

Population Size: 10,000 - 1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but surely exceeds 10,000. Still abundant in many northern lakes and rivers (Petranka 1998).

Overall Threat Impact: Low
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Despite widespread pollution and siltation of streams in eastern North America, this species appears to be in minimal need of protection (Petranka 1998).

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)

Long-term Trend:  
Long-term Trend Comments: Likely relatively stable in extent of occurrence, unknown trend in population size, area of occurrence, and number/condition of occurrences.
Populations along the Mississippi River in Iowa have declined or have been extirpated, with the most recent known record in 1965 (Christiansen, 1998, Proc. Iowa Acad. Sci. 105(3):109-114; Walley 2002).

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable

Environmental Specificity: Moderate. Generalist or community with some key requirements scarce.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Global Range: (200,000 to >2,500,000 square km (about 80,000 to >1,000,000 square miles)) Southern Manitoba to southern Quebec, south to Oklahoma, northern Louisiana, northern Mississippi, northern Alamaba, and northern Georgia (Conant and Collins 1991). Absent from Coastal Plain. Introduced in New England rivers. See Cochran (1991) for information on distribution in the north-central U.S. in relation to postglacial events.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, AR, CT, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MAexotic, MD, MEexotic, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, ND, NHexotic, NY, OH, OK, PA, RIexotic, SD, TN, VA, VT, WI, WV
Canada MB, ON, QC

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at

Range Map Compilers: IUCN, Conservation International, NatureServe, and collaborators, 2004

U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
CT Hartford (09003), Litchfield (09005)
GA Catoosa (13047)*, Fannin (13111)
IA Allamakee (19005), Black Hawk (19013), Boone (19015), Buchanan (19019), Butler (19023), Clayton (19043), Des Moines (19057), Floyd (19067), Henry (19087), Howard (19089), Lee (19111), Sac (19161), Webster (19187), Winneshiek (19191)
IL Cass (17017)*, Champaign (17019), Cook (17031), Crawford (17033), Douglas (17041), Edgar (17045)*, Fayette (17051), Greene (17061), Hancock (17067)*, Iroquois (17075), Jersey (17083), Kankakee (17091), Mclean (17113), Piatt (17147), Pulaski (17153)*, Rock Island (17161)*, Sangamon (17167), Union (17181), Vermilion (17183)*, Will (17197), Winnebago (17201), Woodford (17203)
IN Fulton (18049), Hamilton (18057), Harrison (18061), Jennings (18079), Kosciusko (18085), Lake (18089), Noble (18113), Porter (18127)*, Steuben (18151)
MD Garrett (24023)*
MO Barry (29009), Bates (29013), Benton (29015), Butler (29023)*, Callaway (29027), Camden (29029), Cape Girardeau (29031), Cass (29037), Cedar (29039), Christian (29043), Clay (29047)*, Cole (29051), Crawford (29055), Dade (29057), Dallas (29059), Douglas (29067), Dunklin (29069)*, Franklin (29071), Gasconade (29073), Henry (29083), Hickory (29085)*, Jackson (29095)*, Jefferson (29099)*, Lewis (29111), Madison (29123)*, Maries (29125), Miller (29131)*, Monroe (29137)*, Morgan (29141), Oregon (29149), Osage (29151), Ozark (29153), Perry (29157), Phelps (29161), Pike (29163), Pulaski (29169), Ralls (29173), Reynolds (29179), Ripley (29181), Shannon (29203), Shelby (29205)*, St. Clair (29185)*, St. Louis (29189)*, Stone (29209), Taney (29213), Texas (29215), Warren (29219), Washington (29221), Wayne (29223)
MS Benton (28009)*, Tishomingo (28141)*
NC Alleghany (37005), Ashe (37009), Buncombe (37021)*, Henderson (37089), Macon (37113), Madison (37115), Transylvania (37175)
PA Armstrong (42005), Crawford (42039), Indiana (42063), Venango (42121), Warren (42123)
RI Providence (44007)*
SD Day (46037)*
VA Lee (51105)*, Russell (51167), Scott (51169), Smyth (51173)
VT Addison (50001), Chittenden (50007), Franklin (50011), Orange (50017), Rutland (50021), Windham (50025), Windsor (50027)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
01 Upper Connecticut-Mascoma (01080104)+, Black-Ottauquechee (01080106)+, West (01080107)+, Middle Connecticut (01080201)+, Lower Connecticut (01080205)+, Narragansett (01090004)+*, Housatonic (01100005)+
04 Little Calumet-Galien (04040001)+, Pike-Root (04040002)+, St. Joseph (04050001)+, St. Joseph (04100003)+, Mettawee River (04150401)+, Otter Creek (04150402)+, Winooski River (04150403)+, Lamoille River (04150405)+, Missiquoi River (04150407)+, Lake Champlain (04150408)+
05 Upper Allegheny (05010001)+, Middle Allegheny-Tionesta (05010003)+, French (05010004)+, Middle Allegheny-Redbank (05010006)+, Conemaugh (05010007)+, Youghiogheny (05020006)+*, Upper New (05050001)+, Tippecanoe (05120106)+, Vermilion (05120109)+*, Middle Wabash-Busseron (05120111)+*, Embarras (05120112)+, Upper White (05120201)+, Muscatatuck (05120207)+, Blue-Sinking (05140104)+, Lower Ohio (05140206)+*
06 North Fork Holston (06010101)+*, South Fork Holston (06010102)+, Upper French Broad (06010105)+, Upper Little Tennessee (06010202)+, Upper Clinch (06010205)+, Powell (06010206)+*, Middle Tennessee-Chickamauga (06020001)+*, Ocoee (06020003)+, Bear (06030006)+*
07 Coon-Yellow (07060001)+, Upper Iowa (07060002)+, Grant-Little Maquoketa (07060003)+, Turkey (07060004)+, Upper Wapsipinicon (07080102)+, Flint-Henderson (07080104)+*, Skunk (07080107)+, Shell Rock (07080202)+, Middle Cedar (07080205)+, Pecatonica (07090003)+, Lower Rock (07090005)+*, Middle Des Moines (07100004)+, North Raccoon (07100006)+, Bear-Wyaconda (07110001)+, The Sny (07110004)+, North Fork Salt (07110005)+*, Peruque-Piasa (07110009)+*, Kankakee (07120001)+, Iroquois (07120002)+, Chicago (07120003)+, Mackinaw (07130004)+, Upper Sangamon (07130006)+, South Fork Sangamon (07130007)+, Lower Illinois (07130011)+*, Macoupin (07130012)+, Meramec (07140102)+, Bourbeuse (07140103)+, Big (07140104)+, Upper Mississippi-Cape Girardeau (07140105)+, Whitewater (07140107)+, Middle Kaskaskia (07140202)+
08 Wolf (08010210)+*, Upper St. Francis (08020202)+, Little River Ditches (08020204)+*
10 Upper James (10160003)+*, Middle Big Sioux Coteau (10170201)+*, Lower Marais Des Cygnes (10290102)+, Harry S. Missouri (10290105)+, Sac (10290106)+, Pomme De Terre (10290107)+*, South Grand (10290108)+, Lake of the Ozarks (10290109)+, Niangua (10290110)+, Lower Osage (10290111)+, Upper Gasconade (10290201)+, Big Piney (10290202)+, Lower Gasconade (10290203)+, Lower Missouri-Crooked (10300101)+*, Lower Missouri-Moreau (10300102)+, Lower Missouri (10300200)+
11 Beaver Reservoir (11010001)+, James (11010002)+, Bull Shoals Lake (11010003)+, North Fork White (11010006)+, Upper Black (11010007)+, Current (11010008)+, Eleven Point (11010011)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Reproduction Comments: Lays clutch of about 20-200 eggs in spring or early summer. Eggs hatch in 5-9 weeks. Female may attend eggs until hatching. Attains sexual maturity in 4-6 years. Paedomorphic.
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: Upstream movements associated with spawning observed in late winter or early spring in West Virginia (Green and Pauley 1987).
Lacustrine Habitat(s): Deep water, Shallow water
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic
Habitat Comments: Permanent lakes, ponds, impoundments, streams, and rivers of all sorts. Bottom dweller. Often under rock, debris, bank overhang, etc., during daylight. May move into slack water shallows in late fall and early winter. Eggs are attached to undersides of objects in water. May move upstream to spawn (Green and Pauley 1987).
Adult Food Habits: Carnivore, Invertivore, Piscivore
Immature Food Habits: Carnivore, Invertivore, Piscivore
Food Comments: Feeds opportunistically on small aquatic animals.
Adult Phenology: Circadian, Nocturnal
Immature Phenology: Circadian, Nocturnal
Phenology Comments: Nocturnal in clear water, also diurnal in muddy water and in winter.
Length: 43 centimeters
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Management Summary Not yet assessed
Population/Occurrence Delineation
Group Name: Proteid Salamanders (Waterdogs)

Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Occurrences are based on evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals (including larvae or eggs) in or near appropriate habitat where the species is presumed to be established and breeding.
Separation Barriers: Dams and impoundments (except N. maculosus); upland habitat
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 1 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: These salamanders are strictly aquatic and cannot cross upland habitat. With the exception of N. maculosus, these salamanders are unlikely to successfully traverse an impoundment to reach suitable habitat downstream from a dam, unless the impoundment is very small. Because waterdogs do not climb and probably cannot use fishways, virtually all dams constitute a barrier to upstream movements.

Heavily silted or polluted streams may constitute a barrier or at least unsuitable habitat, depending on the severity of the conditions.

Based on data for the hellbender (Cryptobranchus allegheniensis), home ranges probably tend to be small, but information on periodic long-range movements, dispersal distances, and recolonization ability is not available.

The separation distance for unsuitable habitat reflects the nominal minimum value of 1 km. The 10-km separation distance for suitable habitat reflects the ease of movement and dispersal along riverine habitats and the likely low probability than locations separated by less than 10 km of suitable habitat would represent independent populations.

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .1 km
Date: 15Mar2004
Author: Hammerson, G.
Population/Occurrence Viability
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 03May2002
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 20Dec1989
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

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  • Barbour, R. W. 1971. Amphibians and reptiles of Kentucky. Univ. Press of Kentucky, Lexington. x + 334 pp.

  • Behler, J. L., and F. W. King. 1979. The Audubon Society field guide to North American reptiles and amphibians. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 719 pp.

  • Bider, J. R., and S. Matte. 1994. Atlas des amphibiens et des reptiles du Quebec. Societe d'histoire naturelle de la vallee du Saint-Laurent, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec, and Ministere de l'Environnement et de la Faune, Direction de la faune et des habitats, Quebec. 106 pp.

  • Blackburn, L., P. Nanjappa, and M. J. Lannoo. 2001. An Atlas of the Distribution of U.S. Amphibians. Copyright, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana, USA.

  • Cochran, P. A. 1991. Distribution of the mudpuppy, NECTURUS MACULOSUS, in Minnesota in relation to postglacial events. Can. Field-Nat. 105:400-402.

  • Collins, J. T. 1982. Amphibians and reptiles in Kansas. Second edition. Univ. Kansas Mus. Nat. Hist., Pub. Ed. Ser. 8. xiii + 356 pp.

  • Collins, J. T. 1991. Viewpoint: a new taxonomic arrangement for some North American amphibians and reptiles. SSAR Herpetol. Review 22:42-43.

  • Collins, J. T. 1997. Standard common and current scientific names for North American amphibians and reptiles. Fourth edition. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, Herpetolgical Circular No. 25. 40 pp.

  • Conant, R., and J. T. Collins. 1998. A field guide to reptiles and amphibians: eastern and central North America. Third edition, expanded. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Massachusetts. 616 pp.

  • Cook, F. R. 1984. Introduction to Canadian amphibians and reptiles. National Museum of Natural Sciences, National Museums of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario.

  • Crother, B. I. (editor). 2008. Scientific and standard English names of amphibians and reptiles of North America north of Mexico, with comments regarding confidence in our understanding. Sixth edition. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles Herpetological Circular 37:1-84.

  • DeGraaf, R. M., and D. D. Rudis. 1983a. Amphibians and reptiles of New England. Habitats and natural history. Univ. Massachusetts Press. vii + 83 pp.

  • Desroches, J.-F. et D. Rodrigue 2004. Amphibiens et reptiles du Québec et des Maritimes. Éditions Michel Quintin. 288 pages.

  • Frost, D. R. 1985. Amphibian species of the world. A taxonomic and geographical reference. Allen Press, Inc., and The Association of Systematics Collections, Lawrence, Kansas. v + 732 pp.

  • Green, N. B., and T. K. Pauley. 1987. Amphibians and reptiles in West Virginia. University of Pittsburg Press, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. xi + 241 pp.

  • Guttman, S.I., L.A. Weight, P.A. Moler, R.E. Ashton, Jr., B.W. Mansell and J. Peavy. 1990. An electrophoretic analysis of Necturus from the southeastern United States. Journal of Herpetology. 24:163-175.

  • Johnson, T.R. 1977. The Amphibians of Missouri. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History, Public Education Series 6: ix + 134 pp.

  • Kingsbury, Bruce A., and Spencer Cortwright. 1994. Status and Distribution of Candidate Endangered Herpetofauna in the Fish Creek Watershed. Submitted to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program. 38 pp.

  • Maxson, L. R., P. E. Moler, and B. W. Mansell. 1988. Albumin evolution in salamanders of the genus NECTURUS. Journal of Herpetology 22:231-235.

  • Minton, S. A., Jr. 1972. Amphibians and reptiles of Indiana. Indiana Academy Science Monographs 3. v + 346 pp.

  • Minton, S. A., Jr. 2001. Amphibians & reptiles of Indiana. Revised second edition. Indiana Academy of Science, Indianapolis. xiv + 404 pp.

  • Mirarchi, R.E., editor. 2004. Alabama Wildlife. Volume 1. A checklist of vertebrates and selected invertebrates: aquatic mollusks, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. The University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, Alabama. 209 pages.

  • Mount, R. H. 1975. The reptiles and amphibians of Alabama. Auburn University Agricultural Experiment Station, Auburn, Alabama. vii + 347 pages.

  • Petranka, J. W. 1998. Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.

  • Vogt, R. C. 1981c. Natural history of amphibians and reptiles of Wisconsin. Milwaukee Public Museum. 205 pp.

  • Walley, H. D. 2002. Geographic distribution: Necturus maculosus. Herpetological Review 33:60.

  • Weller, W. F., and D. M. Green. 1997. Checklist and current status of Canadian amphibians. Pages 309-328 in D. M. Green, editor. Amphibians in decline: Canadian studies of a global problem. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, Herpetological Conservation 1.

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