Today’s post comes from Jazmin Gall, naturalist at Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park.
As park staff, one of our favorite questions from visitors is, “Where can I?”Insert various wildlife names. Do you live inside the park?
We love visitors who are as excited about wildlife as we are and are more than happy to share the knowledge we have gained.
In today’s blog, we’ll teach you about the somewhat secret places that salamanders like to call home.
Shy but impressive
Salamanders are lizard-like amphibians that come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Like frogs, most spend the first part of their lives in water and the rest on land.
Eastern red-backed salamander
In the southern half of Ontario, we have over eight different species, ranging from the sizeable Mudpuppy, which reaches the same size as your forearm, to the Eastern Red-backed Salamander, which reaches its maximum length along your index finger.
With brilliant color combinations, including deep blacks, blues, rich reds and yellows, identifying any salamander is always a pleasure!
Unfortunately, many visitors have never had the pleasure of seeing a salamander in the wild before!
This creature is not one to make its presence known, unlike birds with their songs or moose with their size.
They are small, calm animals that generally require an active search if you hope to see one.
Like us, salamanders prefer to make their homes in areas where all their needs are nearby: food, water and shelter.
Since salamanders are amphibians and breathe through their skin, it is essential to stay in a cool, humid environment. And for food, they like to eat insects, worms and slugs.
Although you can find salamanders any time of year when there is no snow on the ground, the best time of year to look for them is in spring or fall.
Winter is too cold for these cold-blooded creatures to stay above the frost line, and summer can be too hot and dry for their moisture-dependent skin.
Spotting salamanders can be fun and easy, and even a little addictive!
But before you start your search, remember to admire with your eyes and not with your hands.
The absorbent skin of salamanders is very sensitive to chemicals we can put on ourselves, such as insect repellent and sunscreen.
They are also quite delicate and could be harmed if they get scared and try to run or jump from your hands.
Start spotting salamanders!
There’s nothing as rewarding as seeing an attractive little salamander (or two) in the wild!
The next time you walk along a trail, take a good look at the forest floor.
You will be surprised by what lives at our feet!