Discover Maryland's Herps

Field Guide to Maryland's Salamanders and Newts
(Order Caudata)

Common Mudpuppy
(Necturus maculosus maculosus)

Waterdogs and Mudpuppies (Family Proteidae)

Photo 1: Adult photo of Common Mudpuppy courtesy of Art Hulse
Adult photo of Common Mudpuppy courtesy of Art Hulse


  • 8 – 13 in.
  • Record - 19⅛ in.
  • Appearance

  • Long and stout aquatic salamander with 3 pairs of red or maroon bushy external gills.
  • Large fore and hind limbs with 4 toes each.
  • Tail is eel-like, vertically flattened with a distinct fin. 
  • The head is flattened and tapered leading to a blunt snout with enlarged brows behind small, dark and lidless eyes.
  • A dark stripe extends from the snout, through the eyes, to the gills.
  • It has a rusty brown, grayish brown, blue-black or gray back with scattered dark spots or blotches. 
  • The underside or belly is gray with some large dark spots.
  • Photo of Common Mudpuppy Habitat by Matt Kline
    Photo of Common Mudpuppy Habitat courtesy of Matt Kline


  • A variety of permanently aquatic habitats including large rivers, lakes and reservoirs.

  • Fast-flowing streams with rocky bottoms.

  • Sluggish and muddy streams.

  • Muddy canals and weed-choked ponds.

  • They may occur at great depths (>60 feet) or in shallows near shore.

  • Maryland Distribution Map
    Maryland Distribution Map for Common Mudpuppy


    This animal is State-listed as Endangered/Extirpated, meaning it occurred in Maryland historically, but currently no known populations exist.  If you find any please contact DNR’s Wildlife and Heritage Service.

    Return to Field Guide to Maryland Salamanders

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    Maryland Amphibian
    and Reptile Atlas Project

    "A Joint Project of the Natural History Society of Maryland, Inc. and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources"

    For monthly newsletters of the Maryland Amphibian & Reptile Atlas Project click on Recent Newsletters and scroll down to the MARA Newsletters.

    The Maryland Herpetology Field Guide is a cooperative effort of the MD Natural Heritage Program and the MD Biological Stream Survey within the Department of Natural Resources and their partners. We wish to thank all who contributed field records, text, and photographs, as well as support throughout its development.