The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is asking the public to report any mudpuppy salamanders they see, especially any die-offs found on rivers and lakes.
Mudpuppies are aquatic salamanders found in large to medium rivers throughout Minnesota, and also in lakes around Alexandria and Detroit Lakes.
Adults are about 13 to 16 inches long, brown or grayish in color, have spots peppered along their back and sides, and a light gray or buff underside. They have small eyes, a paddle-like tail for swimming and external gills that look like feathery projections near their head.
A die-off is considered five or more dead salamanders in a lake at the same place at the same time. Any mudpuppies caught or found dead should be photographed and reported to DNR nongame specialist Amy Westmark, or by calling the report line at 651-259-5076. Westmark can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mudpuppies are the largest salamander in Minnesota and the state’s only fully aquatic salamander, meaning they live in water during every stage of their life cycle. They are not protected in Minnesota, but they are considered a species in greatest conservation need as they appear to be declining in many parts of their national range.
Major threats to mudpuppy populations are loss of habitat and damage to their habitat from siltation, dredging, damming and pollution. Mudpuppies are extremely slimy, but neither poisonous or venomous.