The Spotted Salamander or Yellow-spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) is a mole salamander common in the eastern United States and Canada. The Spotted Salamander is the state amphibian of South Carolina. This salamander ranges from Nova Scotia, to Lake Superior, to southern Georgia and Texas  It has recently been found that its embryos havesymbiotic algae living inside them. 
The spotted salamander is about 15–25 centimetres (5.9–9.8 in) long . They are stout, like most mole salamanders, and have a wide snout.  The spotted salamander’s main color is black, but can sometimes be a blueish black, dark grey, dark green, or even dark brown. There are two rows of yellowish orange spots that run from the top of the head (near the eyes) to the tip of the tail. These rows are uneven. Interestingly, the spotted salamander’s spots near the top of the head are more orange, while the spots on the rest of its body are more yellow. The underside of the spotted salamander is slate gray and pink.
The spotted salamander usually makes its home in hardwood forest areas that have vernal pools. These pools are necessary for breeding. They cannot breed in most permanent pools because the fish inhabiting the pools would eat the salamander eggs and larvae. Spotted salamanders are fossorial, meaning that they spend most of their time underground. They rarely come above-ground, except after a rain or for foraging and breeding. During the winter, they hibernate underground, and are not seen again until breeding season in early March-May.
Ambystoma maculatum has several methods of defense, including hiding in burrows or leaf litter, autotomy of the tail, and a toxic milky liquid they excrete when perturbed. This secretion comes from large poison glands around the back and neck. If a predator of the spotted salamander manages to dismember a part of a leg, tail, or even parts of the brain/head, then it can grow back a new one, although this takes a massive amount of energy. The spotted salamander, like other salamanders show great regenerative abilities, even being able to regenerate limbs and parts of organs. As juveniles, they spend most of their time under the leaf litter near the bottom of the pools their eggs were laid in. The larvae tend to occupy refuges in vegetation and lower their activity in the presence of predators .
During the majority of the year, Spotted Salamanders live in the shelter of leaves or burrows in deciduous forests. However, when the temperature rises and there is a higher moisture level, the salamanders make their abrupt migration towards their annual breeding pond. In just one night, hundreds to thousands of salamanders may make the trip to their ponds for mating. Mates usually breed in ponds when it’s raining in the spring. Females usually lay about 100 eggs that cling to the underwater plants. The eggs are round, clear, jelly-like clumps that are usually 2.5–4 inches (6.3–10 cm) long. Adults only stay in the water for a few days, then the eggs hatch in 1 to 2 months. Eggs of A. maculatum can have a symbiotic relationship with a green alga, Oophila amblystomatis. Jelly coating prevents the spotted salamander eggs from drying out, however it inhibits oxygen diffusion (required for embryo development). The Oophila alga photosynthesizes and produces oxygen in the jelly. The developing salamander thus metabolizes the oxygen, producing carbon dioxide (which then the alga consumes). It has recently been discovered that photosynthetic algae are present within the somatic and possibly the germ cells of the salamander. That means the salamander is a photosynthetic animal. When the eggs hatch depends on the water temperatures. As larvae they are usually light brown or greenish-yellow. They have small dark spots and are born with external gills. In 2–4 months the larvae lose their gills, and become juvenile salamanders that leave the water. Spotted salamanders have been known to live up to 32 years and normally return to the same vernal poolevery year. These vernal pools are seasonal and will usually dry up during the late spring and stay dry until winter.
(From Wikipedia, October 21st, 2012)