In winter, adult California tiger salamanders congregate at suitable breeding sites, typically shallow ponds and pools that have formed during the heavy winter rains (3). A few days after arriving at the breeding pool, the adults spawn and leave the pond soon after (5). The eggs in the pond take two to four weeks to hatch, with the hatchlings initially feeding on zooplankton. Older larvae feed on tadpoles and aquatic invertebrates until undergoing metamorphosis as pond levels recede in late spring (6). Adult California tiger salamanders are presumed to feed predominantly on a wide variety of invertebrate and small vertebrate prey (7). It is thought that most individuals take four to five years to reach sexual maturity (8), and can live for over ten years (7).
Following metamorphosis the California tiger salamander is nocturnal, and prefers to spend most of its time underground. It aestivates (a form of summer hibernation) in the burrows of California ground squirrels (Spermophilus beecheyi) arising during rainy periods in November (5). Surprisingly, the California ground squirrel is a predator of adult salamanders, as is the striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis), while the California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii) and the garter snake (Thamnophis species) preys on California tiger salamander larvae (7).