Saturday, October 1, 2011

Pond Prep for Salamander Breeding

The frequency of rain storms has spurred me to go ahead and prepare the pond for late winter salamander breeding. Unlike a typical vernal pool, my leaky pond has an extremely erratic water level. It only takes a few days to go from a four foot water depth, to a depth of two feet. Below that level the change is much more gradual. Salamander egg clusters placed near the water’s surface are in danger of being exposed to the air and losing their viability. To avoid this, I have to convince the salamanders to place their eggs near the bottom of the pond.

If left standing, the tops of these rushes could stick out of the water at full pool level. Salamanders would have the choice to place their eggs at any point along the rush stem. Egg clusters placed near the top of the stem are likely to perish, so my strategy for increasing salamander egg survival rates is to deny the salamanders the upper part of the stem. In other words, I cut the plants.

The point of deepest water in the pond is characterized by an exposed mud bottom. This is the best place for salamander eggs to be located. In order to lure the salamanders to this spot, I cut the rushes high so there is an 8 to 12 inch stub left in place. The rushes are cut down to ground level everywhere else in the pond. The salamanders prefer to attach their egg clusters to a sturdy stem and the only stems left for them are at the bottom of the deep water.

I’m left with some prime salamander breeding ground. The detached stems will float and pile up near the pond outlet with the first big rain.

By next February this jungle of stems should be full of egg masses. This type of preparation is only necessary because I’m dealing with an unnatural situation. The pond was poorly constructed using poor materials on a poor site. It should not be here. But, because it is here and salamanders are now depending upon it as a breeding site, I do my best to make it function as adequately as possible.


  1. i speak for many of us when i say

    dude! thank you!

    sal a. mander