Mudpuppy. That is the common name for a type of salamander found across parts of the United States including here in Indiana.
Indiana Considers Mudpuppies to Be of "Special Concern"
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources says these carnivorous amphibians are considered to be of "special concern" regarding population conservation. Mudpuppies can grow as large as 16 inches in length and often feed on the likes of small fish, insect larvae, and crayfish.
Are Mudpuppies Poisonous?
Despite their voracious appetite for other aquatic wildlife, these slimy little creatures are neither venomous nor poisonous, meaning their slime and their bite are non-toxic. Found throughout the state of Indiana in bodies of water like lakes, rivers, and streams, spotting a mudpuppy is actually an indication that water quality is good.
Mudpuppy vs Hellbender - What's the Difference?
Unlike their salamander cousin, the Hellbender (an endangered species in Indiana that can grow to more than two feet in length), mudpuppies have external gills. They are also characterized by their "mask," or the stripe that runs from their gills, across their eyes, and up to their nose. Another defining quality of the mudpuppy is its pointed snout, as opposed to the Hellbender and its flat, rounded head.
Have You Seen a Mudpuppy in Indiana?
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources is currently tracking mudpuppy sightings across the state and says that they are oftentimes caught by anglers or "seen in the shallow waters of lakes during late winter and spring."
Contact Indiana DNR If You Spot One
In the event that you reel one of these salamanders in, you are encouraged to cut your line and release the creature unharmed. If you have any photographs that you have taken of a mudpuppy you have encountered in Indiana, you are asked to contact the Department of Natural Resources Herpetologist by emailing HerpSurveys@dnr.IN.gov to share your photo and any information you have regarding the date and location that you found it.
[Source: Indiana DNR via Facebook; In.gov/DNR]