The Only Salamander in Arizona! (ID Guide)

Did you find a salamander in Arizona?

salamanders in arizona

First, congratulations! Although these amphibians are widespread, they can be challenging to locate. The best places to look are in wet habitats under rocks and in creekbeds. Honestly, looking for salamanders is a really fun experience!

Below you will find a list of the most common and interesting salamanders that live in Arizona. You will find detailed pictures, along with range maps for each species to help with your identification!

The Only Type of Salamanders in Arizona:


#1. Western Tiger Salamander

  • Ambystoma mavortium

common salamanders in arizona

Identifying Characteristics

  • Adults range from 3 to 6.5 inches in length.
  • Their coloring is greenish-yellow with black markings, ranging from large spots and stripes to small irregular shapes on the head, back, and tail.
  • This species has a thick body and neck and a short snout.

Western Tiger Salamanders are secretive and spend much of their time underground. You’re most likely to see them moving about and foraging on rainy nights. Their favorite hiding spots are burrows, which they can make themselves or borrow from other animals.

Interestingly, Western Tiger Salamanders have four distinct morphs as adults. Scientists classify them by whether they are aquatic or terrestrial, and also by what they eat. For example, a typical Western Tiger Salamander eats insects and frogs, breathes above water, and spends time on land.

However, there is a terrestrial morph that cannibalizes other Western Tiger Salamanders! In addition, there are cannibalistic and non-cannibalistic aquatic morphs that have gills and breathe underwater.

species of salamanders in arizona

The aquatic individuals are called paedomorphs, and while they are mature and able to reproduce normally, they retain a lot of the features of larval Western Tiger Salamanders. The most obvious feature is their frilly, long gills!

Although Western and Eastern Tiger Salamanders are closely related, it would be unusual to mix up these two species. First, because they rarely share the same range and aren’t often seen together. Second, Western Tiger Salamanders are smaller and lack the black snout patch that Eastern Tiger Salamanders have.


Which of these salamanders have you seen in Arizona?

Tell us about it in the comments!

Also, if you enjoy this article, make sure to check out these other guides about herps! As you may have guessed, “herps” refers to herpetology, the study of reptiles and amphibians like salamanders.