Simcoe County Bird and Nature Board. POSTS MUST INCLUDE FULL NAME AND EMAIL ADDRESS OR THEY WILL BE DELETED FROM THE BOARD. Banners at top of page cannot be blocked but are not part of the page. BOB BOWLES
Re(1): Spotted Salamander


Very cool observation Dave. This is the second observation of a day-walking Spotted Salamander I have heard of in the last month. The first was a post on the Field Naturalists of Ontario Facebook page. I think many people assumed it was an animal that assumed it was spring (because of the warm weather) and it was time to migrate to the pools where these salamander breed. I wrote this:

What a wonderful animal. Very nice photos, and a cool (bizarre) observation!

I might add my opinion here, which is that this wasn't a "fooled" salamander headed to mate. It has been well demonstrated by a study in the US that salamanders need the right conditions to migrate and mate, but that their internal clocks need to be right too--in short, they are evolved to "know" not to move in spring-like winter weather events. Maybe what is more likely is that this one was flooded out of its wintertime refuge given the thaw. Spotted Salamanders mostly hibernate in relatively deep burrows made by deer mice, and they choose ones in the autumn that are oriented in places that will drain well. A burrow that floods and doesn't drain will end up being lethal! Some salamanders inevitably misjudge what is a safe burrow, or others can't afford to make the switch as autumn progresses (maybe hard frosts make it too dangerous for them to switch to a safer burrow). I suspect this salamander was in one of these tough places and had a real problem when the thaw submerged his refuge for the next several months. So, it was move (over snow), or die. I worked in Algonquin Park as a naturalist over a 9 year span, and we once had someone make the same kind of observation in December.

If this were a confused mating attempt, it would be unusual to find only one. Spotted Salamanders migrate en masse in the spring. And, they are essentially never observed during the day, even during spring migration. So, I think finding one out during the day suggests it was very stressed and desperate (much like finding a nocturnal owl hunting during daylight hours!)

I suspect releasing it at the base of that stump was the best thing to do.

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