Greater Siren
Siren lacertina

CLASS: Amphibia
ORDER: Caudata
FAMILY: Sirenidae

SIZE:
20-30 inches.

RANGE:
Lowlands of southeastern U.S. from Maryland to southern Florida and barely into Alabama. The Louisiana species is the Lesser Siren, Siren intermedia, which only reaches 11 inches long.

HABITAT:
Aquatic, found in ponds, swamps, lakes, and ditches.

DIET:

  • Wild - Insects, snails, worms, crayfish.
  • Zoo - Thawed bloodworms, shrimp pellets.

DESCRIPTION:
An eel-like salamander with only the front pair of legs (each with four toes) developed; large red gills are present behind the head throughout life. Usually shades of olive to dark grayish with small yellowish spots on the sides and belly.

FACTS:

  • A highly variable species with many different color patterns.
  • The jaws are covered with horny sheaths and lack teeth.
  • Large amounts of vegetation are eaten during feeding but are not digested.

YOUNG:
Breeding is very poorly understood. It is thought that the eggs are laid in small clumps and then fertilized by the male externally (a very primitive condition in salamanders). Small specimens tend to be found in winter.

STATUS:
Not considered threatened.

REFERENCES:

  • A Field Guide to Florida Reptiles and Amphibians. R. D. Bartlett & Patricia Bartlett.
  • A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians. Eastern and Central North America. Roger Conant & Joseph T. Collins.