FWS Focus



The Black Warrior waterdog is a large, aquatic salamander that permanently retains larval characteristics such as external gills. This species is listed as?endangered?and is only found in streams within the Black Warrior River Basin in Alabama.? 

Scientific Name

Necturus alabamensis
Common Name
Black Warrior Waterdog
Alabama Waterdog
Black Warrior River Waterdog
Black warrior (=Sipsey Fork) Waterdog
FWS Category

Location in Taxonomic Tree

Identification Numbers



Characteristic category



Black Warrior waterdogs depend on specific stream substrates for normal and robust life processes such as breeding, rearing, protection of young, protection of adults when threatened, foraging and feeding. Preferred substrates are dominated by clay or bedrock with little sand, also containing abundant rock crevices and rock slabs for retreats, or shelter, and areas for egg laying.?? 

River or Stream

A natural body of running water.

Characteristic category



Larval and adult Black Warrior waterdogs are assumed to be opportunistic carnivores,?but prey taken in the wild has not been described. Adults are attracted to traps baited with fish-flavored cat food. Captive Black Warrior waterdogs have eaten small fish and earthworms. Crayfish, isopods, amphipods, freshwater clams and insects, including mayflies, caddisflies, dragonflies,?beetles and midges, have been reported as prey items in Gulf Coast waterdogs, a similar species.? 

Characteristic category

Physical Characteristics

Size & Shape

The Black Warrior waterdog is a large, aquatic salamander that permanently retains larval characteristics such as external gills. It has a flattened head and body, laterally compressed tail and four toes on each of its four feet.   

Larvel length: 1 to 2 inches (28 to 48 millimeters)
Sub-adult length: 1.5 to 4 inches (40 to 100 mm)
Adult length: Maximum of 9.5 inches (240 mm)

Color & Pattern

Larval Black Warrior waterdogs are dark brown or black on their dorsum, meaning upper surfaces, and have two light stripes running along their sides. Sub-adults do not have the stripes that are present on larvae and are not conspicuously marked,?although they do have a dark stripe extending from the nostril through the eye to the gills. Adults are usually brown, may be spotted or unspotted, and retain the dark eye stripe.



The species is currently?found in?medium to large streams in the Black Warrior River Basin in Sipsey Fork, Brushy Creek, Rush Creek, Locust Fork, Gurley Creek, Yellow Creek and Brown Creek. Most of these streams contain sites with intact physical characteristics like clay or bedrock substrate with little sand. Most of these sites also contain abundant rock crevices and rock slabs, as well as other factors that are considered key?physical and biological features. Heavy siltation could reduce cover, food and smother nests and eggs.? 

Launch Interactive Map


Explore the information available for this taxon's timeline. You can select an event on the timeline to view more information, or cycle through the content available in the carousel below.

34 Items