Though these bluish-black salamanders are large—about seven inches (18 centimeters) long—and distinctly marked with bright yellow or orange spots, they're still not easy to find. They're active only at night. During the day they stay quietly hidden under rocks, leaf debris, and logs. They also use other animals' burrows as their daytime hideouts.
Spotted salamanders' favorite habitat is forests near rivers and streams. When it's the salamander looking for a tasty meal, it goes after such prey as insects, worms, slugs, spiders, and millipedes.
It takes from 20 to 60 days for spotted salamander eggs to hatch. Like the tadpole stage of a frog, the salamander also starts out in a larval stage. It must be in water to survive until it develops into the adult salamander form, which takes from 60 to 90 days. Young salamanders eat the larvae of such insects as beetles and mosquitoes that share the water, as well as small animals they find around the edges of their pond.
Spotted salamanders produce a nasty-tasting toxin in glands on their backs and tails to deter predators.