It’s spring, and love is in the air as male frogs serenade their sweethearts from ponds throughout the watershed. But they are not the only amorous amphibians about. Mostly silent and more secretive, some of their salamander cousins are also busy breeding. Here are a few questions to test your knowledge of salamanders in general and of Bay watershed species, in particular.
1. True or false? Most salamanders are nocturnal.
2. In which life stage are salamanders carnivorous?
C. All life stages
D. None, they are vegetarians
3. Why are some species called mole salamanders?
A. They are blind.
B. They spend most of their life underground.
C. They have pseudo fur.
D. They eat worms.
4. How do lungless salamanders breathe?
A. Through their ears
B. Through their skin
C. Through slits in their body
D. Through gills
5. Although they resemble lizards in shape, salamanders lack which external features?
D. A & B
Match these watershed species with their description:
Northern Spring Salamander
A. This species, which can grow up to 20 inches long, is the largest salamander in North America. This aquatic creature spends most of its day hiding under submerged rocks or logs in clear, fast-moving streams or river channels.
B. This species is unusual because it breeds in late summer or autumn, instead of spring, and lays its eggs on land. This black (to dark ray) and white (to light gray/ silver) banded salamander is chunkier than most species.
C. Bright yellow polka dots make it easy to identify this 8– to 9-inch black salamander. Its spends most of its life in the leaf litter or underground burrows of deciduous forests. It frequently breeds in the same ponds as marbled salamanders.
D. This brownish gray salamander lives in the debris of damp forests near ponds or swamps. During breeding, the male’s sperm stimulates the egg’s development, but doesn’t contribute any genetic material.
E. This eel-shaped salamander has external gills and is found in shallow, weedy waters. It has the ability to secrete a shell that seals in moisture, which allows it to burrow into the mud to aestivate should its habitat temporarily dry up.
F. This salmon-colored species lives in clear, cold mountain streams, wet caves and where water seeps from the ground. It attaches its up to 100 eggs one at a time to the undersides of submerged stones. It mostly eats insects and other invertebrates, but occasionally it eats other salamanders.
G. This common species comes is several color phases. At least one of these phases serves as a defensive measure for this salamander, which is eaten by a variety of creatures. In areas where it is found alongside its cousin, the toxic red eft, up to 25 percent of this species of salamander are the all-red phase, which might scare off predators who have encountered the eft. This salamander is also able to detach its tail, should it be snagged by a predator. The tail will almost completely grow back.
H. This shiny black salamander with white, gray or yellow spots is found in moist, shady ravines or forested slopes with banks of shale or stones that provide shelter. It has skin glands that secrete a viscuous substance that sticks to hands and fingers like glue should it be picked up.
I. The life stages of this salamander are distinctly different. The newly hatched larvae are yellow-green and tadpole-like with external gills. The juvenile is the sleek, terrestrial, brilliant orange “red eft.” The aquatic adult is dark green to olive with red spots encircled in black. It also has a thick tail that serves as a rudder. The adults live in ponds, quiet streams, marshes and shallow lakes, and the eft lives in damp woods.
1. True 2. C 3. B 4. B 5. D
A. Hellbender B. Marbled C. Spotted D. Jefferson E. Greater Siren F. Northern Spring G. Redback H. Slimy I. Red-Spotted Newt