Sunday, March 28, 2010

Northern Ravine Salamander

Yesterday’s walk in the woods became very exciting when I discovered a species of salamander not seen before at Blue Jay Barrens. I turned a flat rock and found this Northern Ravine Salamander. This is a species that I’ve never seen before and it took 25 years before I found one here. This just shows that even a well explored piece of property has hidden secrets still awaiting discovery.

Northern Ravine Salamanders are completely terrestrial and do not seek out pools of water in which to breed. Eggs are laid in chambers below ground. Pool breeding salamanders tend to have a flattened tail that aids in swimming. The Ravine’s tail is round.

The toughest thing about uncovering a salamander is getting him back where he belongs without his getting crushed. The first rule of handling salamanders is to make sure your hand is wet when you pick them up. A dry hand can do serious damage to the salamander’s skin. I used my water bottle to wet my hand and then scooped this little guy up while I repositioned his rock. I hurried, because a small salamander can overheat if held for too long in a closed hand. I then put him down and he crawled quickly under the rock. My last act was to pat the soil back up against the side of the rock to keep out the drying breeze.


  1. Oh - we have those here in the backyard! Every once in awhile we'll find a few, where I grew up we would find those and Spotted salamanders. I don't have open water here and as such - no spotteds. Did you name this one Renee? :)

  2. I feel so special!

    If it makes you feel any better, 'Dale' is amongst the missing. :( I suppose it was better he wasn't named 'Steve' after all. lol!

  3. Very nice Steve- I was talking to Rich McCarty once about how he had never seen a red back at "the edge". It's quite strange that they aren't there (or are really rare), but there has to be some ecological explanation, and I would start with the calcareous nature of the bluegrass region. Up in northeast Ohio, we have an erythristic form of the redback- it's quite rare but individuals are entirely bright reddish-orange, almost like a small red salamander without spots.