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.

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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!

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

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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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