Monday, March 12, 2012

The 2012 Salamander Season Has Started!

Today was my first official day of Spring break, so I did what any 20 year old guy would do on this occasion... I put on some rubber boots and waded around in a algae-covered pond looking for salamander eggs!

The temperature was mild (high 50's to mid 60's) yesterday, and there was a gentle rain all day. So today, I headed out to a pond where Ambystoma maculatum were known to congregate and breed. What did I find? The remnants of a wild, salamander party! Spermatophores, packets of sperm encased in jelly, and clumps of eggs were everywhere! Of course, I collected some egg masses to hatch back here at nerd HQ.

Now for a little something about this species. The Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) is a large, terrestrial salamander ranging between 15-25 cm in total length. For most of the year, this species lives beneath rocks, logs, and in burrows. Ambystoma maculatum migrate to ponds to breed on warm, rainy nights in late winter and early spring.

Below are some shots of the breeding site. The white dots in the pictures are unused spermatophores.

Monday, February 13, 2012

It's been a long time!

I haven't posted to this blog in a looong time! Why is this? Have I given up on my love of salamanders? No! There are two things that come into play here: 1) I've been busy with other areas of my life, and 2) The salamanders haven't been very active around these parts. So there isn't much new here regarding field herping accounts.

On the captive side of things, I have been trying to get my Northern Red Salamanders (Pseudotriton ruber ruber) to breed, with no success. I have four adults. Although sexing Pseudotriton is difficult, I believe I have at least one female due to her large size. Currently, I have my Northern Reds in an aquatic setup. This comprises of a 10 gallon aquarium with a substrate of river rock (I bought mine in bulk at Lowe's). On top of the substrate, I stacked native limestone rocks to provide lots of nooks, crannies, and caves. The salamanders seem to be enjoying their living conditions, but no courtship so far.

Other than that, there is not much news here. I am patiently waiting for salamander season to start back up here in southwestern Missouri!