Tigger, the Hybrid California Tiger Salamander

© David Rosen/Wildside Photography

Tigger was found near Monterey, California by the UC Davis research study team. Her favorite food was crickets, but she also enjoyed earthworms. Tigger became part of a study done at UC Davis involving the California Tiger Salamander and another type of Tiger Salamander from Texas.

About 50 years ago, fisherman used a larval salamander from Texas as bait. Some of the little salamanders escaped off their hook, and survived. As adults they could interbreed with the California Tiger Salamanders, producing a Hybrid Salamander. These hybrids are very hardy and survive better than either of their parents.  For more about these vigorous, little hybrids, check out this article.

In the wild, California Tiger Salamanders will be 6-8.5 inches long and live mainly underground in the burrows of California Ground Squirrels and pocket gophers. Like all amphibians, the adult salamanders have to return to water to breed. The California Tiger Salamanders like to breed in temporary pools that fill up in the winter and dry up in the summer (like vernal pools). Since the pools dry up each summer, there are no fish living in them to eat the baby salamanders. The baby salamanders (called larvae) are yellowish gray with bushy gills around the neck. As the larvae get older, they like to eat tadpoles and aquatic invertebrates. When they become adults, they lose their gills and develop lungs so they can breathe on land.

The California Tiger Salamander is considered a threatened species in the state of California because it has disappeared from over 50% of its historic range, as a result of urbanization and agricultural development.