Common Mudpuppy (Necturus m. maculosus)
Mudpuppies are large aquatic salamanders that can reach 17 inches in length. Dorsal coloration varies from rusty brown to bluish black with numerous irregular dark spots. Dark stripes on each side of the head extend from the nostrils through the eyes. They are the only salamanders in West Virginia that have conspicuous external gills throughout life. Four toes on the hind feet (Four-toed Salamanders are the only other salamander in West Virginia to have this characteristic) and a compressed tail with a strong dorsal keel are other obvious distinguishing characteristics.
Mudpuppies live in streams and impoundments where they hide under rocks and debris and in furrows or under bank overhangs during the day. They become active at night when they forage for food items such as crayfish, small fishes, amphibians, mollusks, worms, and aquatic insects. Mudpuppies are active throughout the year.
Mating occurs in the autumn and eggs are deposited on the underside of cover objects in early spring. Females remain with the eggs until they hatch, which takes approximately 50 days. Sexual maturity is reached by the end of the fifth or sixth year.
Like hellbenders, mudpuppies are harmless and should be released if caught while fishing.
Mudpuppies probably occur throughout West Virginia but most known locations are in the Allegheny Plateau.