Characteristics and Behavior:
The Greater siren is a large, eel-like amphibian with frilled external gills and only one set of legs found on the forebody, which sets it apart from most other amphibians. This species can exceed 3 feet in length and sport a variety of colorations from olive-green to brown or gray. These creatures exhibit secretive and predominantly nocturnal behavior, often concealing themselves in underwater vegetation.
- The Greater Siren is found in the southeastern United States, including Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina.
- They inhabit various aquatic environments, such as swamps, marshes, and slow-moving rivers, favoring habitats with dense aquatic vegetation.
- Greater Sirens are well-adapted to the wetlands and aquatic ecosystems of Florida, which offer abundant habitats for these unique amphibians.
- The average lifespan of the Greater Siren is approximately 25 to 30 years, with some individuals living even longer.
- Reproduction involves laying eggs in underwater vegetation, where the female guards them until they hatch. These eggs are sometimes attended to by multiple females.
- Sirens are often mistaken for snakes due to their elongated bodies, but they are, in fact, amphibians, capable of both aquatic and terrestrial respiration.
- Ancient Lineage: Sirens are often referred to as "living fossils" because they belong to an ancient amphibian lineage that dates back to the Cretaceous period, over 100 million years ago.
- Nocturnal Vocalizations: These amphibians are known to produce high-pitched, melodious vocalizations during the breeding season, creating a distinctive sound in the wetlands.
- Top Predators: Greater Sirens have few natural predators due to their size and secretive behavior, but they occasionally fall prey to large wading birds, snakes, and alligators.