Dwarf Waterdog
Necturus punctatus

Photo by Pierson Hill

Description: The dwarf waterdog (Necturus punctatus) reaches a total length of about 7.5 inches as an adult, and is therefore smaller than the related Neuse River waterdog (Necturus lewisi) and mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus). It also has a thinner body than either of those two related species. Like other Necturus species, the dwarf waterdog has four-toed feet on its front and back legs, a set of large feathery gills, and a laterally flattened tail. Dwarf waterdogs have a uniform gray to brown body color without spots (although some dark spotting may occur on the tail). The gills are usually red, and the midline of the belly is a solid white or cream color. Juvenile dwarf waterdogs are a solid brown color, except for a bluish white belly and a mottled tailfin. Similarly, larvae are a uniform brown color.

Habitat/Range: Dwarf waterdogs are fully aquatic salamanders that can be found ranging from parts of Virginia through the Carolinas and into Georgia. They are usually found in streams and are rarely found in deeper main channels of rivers. Dwarf waterdogs prefer slow moving streams with plenty of leaves and silt, but they can also been found in clear, faster moving streams. The dwarf waterdog is most active during the winter and is nocturnal.

Diet: Dwarf waterdogs will eat most animals that are small enough for them to swallow including worms, insects and other aquatic invertebrates.

Reproduction: Although little is known about dwarf waterdog reproduction, based on behavior of closely related species it is likely that mating occurs in winter and that females lay eggs sometime between March and May. Females lay 15-55 eggs, but little else is known about their nesting behavior and larval development.

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The shaded region represents the range of the dwarf waterdog in North Carolina.


This website created by: J. Willson, Y. Kornilev, W. Anderson, G. Connette and E. Eskew.
For comments or questions contact M. Dorcas: midorcas@davidson.edu.
M. Dorcas homepage: http://bio.davidson.edu/dorcas
Davidson College, Davidson, North Carolina 28035-7118.

Partial Funding for this website provided by a Associate Colleges of the South, National Science Foundation, and Duke Energy.