Wednesday, February 4, 2015

2015 Salamander Breeding - Second Wave

Winter storm Linus came through this area Sunday as mostly a rain event before changing over to snow on Monday morning.  Light rain began early Sunday afternoon and continued until almost midnight.  Rainfall total was only 0.35 inches, but that was enough to bring more salamanders to the breeding pond.  In my hand is one of the many Streamside Salamanders I saw Sunday evening.

The first Streamside Salamander encountered was already in the water, making me think I may once again have missed seeing any traveling overland to the pond.

I began searching the shoreline and soon discovered this fellow.  It was traveling along the path of shallow water flowing from the seasonal spring farther up the pond bank.

In reaction to my light, it began to seek refuge beneath a patch of moss.  The base color of this species varies from brown to various shades of gray.  The markings resemble lichen colonies and are also quite variable between individuals.  I think the brown color and golden markings on this one are particularly attractive.

I pulled the salamander’s head from beneath the moss and sent it on its way.  It soon plunged into the pond and disappeared from sight.

Streamside salamanders deposit their eggs on the undersides of flat objects such as rocks.  Since the pond is devoid of such objects, I created a breeding area composed of flat rocks, clay tile, bricks, boards and concrete blocks.  I’ll see which the salamanders prefer.  Last year their eggs were laid beneath mats of moss on the pond bottom.  This worked, but several of the mats detached from the bottom and began floating about the pond where they could easily be left dry along the shoreline as the water level dropped.

Several Streamside Salamanders were checking out the artificial structure.

Nothing in this collection is going to go floating off, so any eggs left here should be safe.

Jefferson Salamanders were also active.  Several Jeffersons entered the pond a month ago, but no egg masses appeared.

I’m wondering if the early arrivals were all males.  The January rain that brought the first of the Jeffersons was of short duration and a low amount.  This was possibly not enough rain to motivate the females to move to the pond.  We went until Sunday without having another rain, so this is the first time in a month that the females had a chance to make their journey.

The Jeffersons were quite interested in one another.  There were several groupings of two or more individuals around the pond.

When the rain once again picked up, the rough surface of the water made it impossible to clearly view the underwater activity, so I headed back to the house.

On Monday morning, clusters of Jefferson Salamander egg masses were clearly visible in the pond.  I guess a couple of females did make it to the pond Sunday night.

The pond is the lowest it has ever been for salamander breeding season.  When each rainfall measures just a few tenths of an inch, the pond doesn’t fill very fast.  As long as the spring water entering the pond equals or exceeds that leaking out, the salamanders should be in no danger.  The next species to move to the breeding pond will be the Spotted Salamander.  Depending on weather, the next wave could be anytime between now and the end of April.


  1. I can't believe you've got such salamander action at the beginning of February! Everything is still under a foot of snow here and frozen solid, and will be for another month or more. I just don't think of Ohio as that far south.

  2. Hi, Furry Gnome. I'm located in the extreme southern part of Ohio, about 200 miles south of Lake Erie. My salamanders are routinely a month or more ahead of those in the northern half of the state.

  3. Replies
    1. Hi, Joe. Yes, it's just as dangerous as a plush Godzilla.