The Everglades dwarf siren is one of the most secretive and unknown creatures in the Florida Everglades.
Found nowhere else in the world but the cypress swamps, marl prairies, and depression marshes around and south of Lake Okeechobee, this two-legged aquatic salamander moves about at night hunting for small invertebrates.
Sirens are neotenic salamanders, meaning that they reach sexual maturity without ever leaving the water and losing their juvenile characteristics, such as their external gills (those bushy red structures behind the head) that are used to extract oxygen from the water. During droughts, they coat themselves in mucus and burrow into the mud or beneath decaying plant matter and wait for the next big rain.
Threats to the Everglades dwarf siren include water pollution from nearby agriculture, the drying up and fragmentation of suitable habitat by locks and canals, and habitat destruction by increased development on the edge of the Everglades.