Meet the County critters: Spotted salamanders

Spotted Salamander
March 27, 2014
  |   Leave your comments

What are Salamanders?

Salamanders are amphibians like frogs and toads.  Amphibians are cold blooded animals that spend at least part of their life in water.  Unlike frogs and toads, salamanders have tails and teeth on both their upper and lower jaws.

Like most cold blooded animals, salamanders hibernate from late fall until early spring.  They bury themselves deep in the mud or underground to keep from freezing.

Image of a spotted salamander

Spotted salamander

 

The largest species of salamander in Montgomery County is the spotted salamander.  This species is part of the mole salamander family (Ambystomatid).  Mole salamanders are specialized salamanders that spend most of their lives underground.  Spotted salamanders can live to be more than 20 years old and often only come above ground once a year.

 

Image of a seasonal pool

Seasonal pool

 

On a warm rainy spring night, usually in March (but this year early April too), the salamanders emerge, and make their way to temporary wetlands (seasonal  pools).

Mass migrations including hundreds or even thousands of salamanders can be seen as they travel to their breeding grounds.   Like salmon and many bird species, spotted salamanders travel back to the same breeding grounds every year. The salamanders then breed, and quickly make their way back to the safety of their underground burrows.

 

Image of spotted salamanders

Spotted salamanders found migrating to their breeding grounds. (If you see salamanders, do not touch them. Trained DEP staff took these pictures!)

 

Each female lays up to 250 eggs that then hatch about a month later.  When the eggs hatch, larvae emerge and live in the water until late summer when they metamorphose into adults and find a suitable place to spend the winter.

 

Image of spotted salamander eggs

Spotted salamander eggs

 

Image of spotted salamander larvae

Spotted salamander larvae

 

If you’d like to find spotted salamanders, try looking around seasonal pools in on a rainy evening when the temperature is between 50 and 60 degrees.  If you’re lucky maybe you’ll catch one of Montgomery County’s most amazing natural phenomenons!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *