North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Carolina Madtom

Scientific Name: Noturus furiosus

Classification: Federal Species of Concern, State Threatened

Species Profile (PDF)

Fact sheet (low resolution)

Fact sheet (high resolution) 

   
 

The Carolina madtom is small, with distinct black and tan saddles on its back.  They have stinging spines in their pectoral fins which can pack quite a wallop, earning them their “furiosus” title.

Description

Only five inches at their largest, the Carolina madtoms have a short, tan body with three wide dark saddles across the back.  They also have a black lateral stripe and a dark blotch on their adipose fin.

Distribution

This species is endemic to the Tar and Neuse river basins.

Habitat Preferences

Carolina madtoms prefer free-flowing streams with clean sand or gravel bottoms.   During the summer, they can be found hiding under mussel shells, logs, pieces of bark, and other cover. 

Life History

Females produce anywhere from 80-300 eggs per season and lay them in cover areas.  Males guard the nest until the eggs hatch.  Juveniles grow about two inches in their first two years and then mature between age two and three.  It is not certain how long these fish live, but they at least reach four years of age.

Madtoms feed primarily on bottom-dwelling invertebrates such as larval dragonflies and diving beetles.

Protected under the state Endangered Species Act.  No Carolina madtoms can be collected or killed without a permit from the NC Wildlife Resources Commission.

What We Do

We conduct periodic surveys monitoring the status of this imperiled species.