Noah Austin

Western tiger salamanders (Ambystoma mavortium) are among the largest salamanders in North America. According to photographer and wildlife expert Bruce D. Taubert, this image shows the neotenic form of the species, commonly known as a “water dog.” But what does that mean? Essentially, most of the salamanders’ larvae lose their fringed external gills when they become adult salamanders, allowing them to venture onto land. But a relative few, such as this one, keep their gills and remain aquatic. These mostly nocturnal creatures are, in a word, hungry, and they’ll eat anything they can catch, including slugs and earthworms.