The amphibians are starting to move

With the warm weather yesterday I went out to some amphibian breeding ponds to see if anything was moving. Most were either still frozen or had nothing going on except a single spring peeper calling somewhere near the heron rookery off West Bath Road.

At one site, despite the fact that it was mostly covered in ice, I saw the familiar undulations of salamanders swimming through the water. These turned out to be Jefferson salamanders, which typically start a few weeks earlier than spotteds. They look a lot like spotted salamanders without spots (we have seen a few of these), but are more slender, have pointier snouts, and freakishly long toes. I also caught a glimpse of a frog, either wood or green, swimming for cover under some leaves.


Female Jefferson salamander at the edge of the pond.

There was some action back at Windhover as well. We caught some newts and a spring peeper in the buckets. The newt in the picture below thought I wanted to eat him and responded by curling his body back over itself to show me his bright orange underside (called an “unken reflex”). This is a poisonous salamander’s way of saying “if you eat me, it will suck.” This is the most extreme version of this I have ever seen; I’ve never seen the tail wrapped around the neck like this!



Female spring peeper in a bucket. She was chubby with eggs.


About Scott Thomas

I'm a graduate student seeking to contribute to our understanding of how ecology, evolution, and their interplay contribute to the abundance and distribution of animal populations. Since 2011, I have been a part of the Niewiarowski Lab, where I help run a long-term demographic study of an Ohio breeding population of spotted salamanders.
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One Response to The amphibians are starting to move

  1. John Piersol says:

    Great to see signs of spring. Looking forward to your salamander walks.

    Sent from my iPhone


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