Lesser Siren

STATUSLeast Concern


DIETCrustacean, amphibian larvae, worms, and snails

RANGESoutheastern United States and Northern Mexico

HABITATSwamps, sloughs, and weedy ponds

Lesser Siren

Physical Description

The lesser siren is a type of salamander with two front legs and no hind legs and retains external gills throughout its life. Their color can vary from deep brown to olive green to black. They can range from 7-27 inches in length and have a long, slender tail.


Predators they may encounter include water snakes, fishes, alligators, and wading birds.


Their lifespan in the wild is unknown, but in human care they have been known to live an average of 6 years.


Not much is known about their reproduction. Scientists believe their courtship rituals may be aggressive and involve biting because of scarring. Females will lay anywhere from 100-500 or more eggs in the soft mud or plant debris at the bottom of the body of water they inhabit. It is believed that the eggs then incubate for 1 ½ to 2 ½ months because of when larvae begin to appear.

Fun Facts

  • The lesser siren is smaller than the greater siren, which can reach lengths of over 3 feet. The best way to distinguish between them is by counting their costal grooves, which are grooves on their sides from the forelimbs to the vent. Greater sirens will have over 36 grooves, while the lesser will have under 35.
  • Because of their body shape and lack of hindlimbs, the lesser siren has often been mistaken for an eel!

Conservation Messaging

In our Reptile and Amphibian (RAD) center you will find many different reptiles and amphibians including venomous and poisonous species of snakes and frogs. Many of these animals fall victim to habitat loss in the wild. Many of the species here are found in South American habitats which are subjected to deforestation, damming of rivers, water pollution, and poor agricultural and management practices.

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