Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Native Species Profile - Blue-spotted Salamander

Do you enjoy a diet of insects, spiders, earthworms, slugs, snails, and other invertebrates?

Do you like hanging out under logs and burrowing into the earth during the day?

Do you have moist blue-black skin with blue-gray spots along your sides, on your legs, and on your tail?

If you answered yes to all three of these questions, you might be a Blue-spotted Salamander.

You should probably get off the internet now and go back to the woods.

If you're not a Blue-Spotted Salamander but you want to learn more about them go on to the next page.

The Blue-spotted Salamander (Ambystoma laterale) is found in coniferous and deciduous forests throughout the northeastern United States and southern Canada.  The Blue-spotted Salamander is one of the more common salamanders throughout its range, but it is rarely seen unless it is searched for.  It commonly hides under logs and buried in the leaf litter on the forest floor where it eats a variety of invertebrates such as worms, slugs, and insects.  Belonging to group of salamanders called the "Mole Salamanders" it also burrows beneath the ground.  It commonly roams on the surface at night and during rainstorms.

The Blue-spotted Salamander is a mid-sized terrestrial salamander.  It averages 3.5 to 5.5 inches in length.  It's tail makes up nearly 40% of this length.  When seized by a predator the tail can detach, allowing the salamander time to escape.  The tail eventually grows back.  The salamander in the picture above (and the two photos below) has a shortened tail that is regrowing.

The upper surfaces of the Blue-spotted Salamander is grey-black to blue-black in color with turquoise blue to grey-blue spots.  The overall effect gives the salamander the look of "snowflake" obsidian.  The underside is either the same color as the upper or a paler shade.

Blue-spotted Salamanders are most common in moist deciduous woods with nearby seasonal ponds.  Like most amphibians, Blue-spotted Salamander require water for breeding.  They prefer seasonal ponds that dry out in the summer (and therefore cannot support fish).  Blue-spotted Salamanders are among the earliest salamanders to breed in the spring arriving in the seasonal ponds in late March to early April.  Warming temperatures and rains may trigger breeding even sooner.  Females may lay as many as 500 eggs during the breeding season.

The legless larva hatch from the eggs within 3 to 5 weeks depending on water temperatures.  Unlike frog tadpoles which are vegetarians, salamander larva are fierce predators, eating a wide variety of aquatic invertebrates.  Once they hatch, the larva are in a race against time.  They have to metamorphose into adults before the ponds dry up.  Once the larva metamorphose, they will disperse back into the woods where they will join their older relatives.

Blue-spotted Salamander 
Ambystoma laterale

Size:  3-5” long

Habitat:  moist deciduous and mixed forests, under logs

Eats:  insects, earthworms, spiders, slugs, centipedes

Reproduction:  lays eggs in water, young live in water, look like “tadpoles”, change into adult form over time

No comments:

Post a Comment