Updated: Apr 6, 2020
The first warm rains in the early spring (usually April) bring out the spotted salamanders in central CT.
The spotted salamanders migrate to the vernal pools to find a mate and lay their eggs. One big challenge is that many of them must cross roads to get there. Please watch out for these and the amphibians crossing the road on warm rainy nights in spring.
I love the way they move. The spotted salamander in these videos is a big one (~8"), so it may be a female. The second video has woman's hand for scale.
The spotted salamander is an incredibly cool amphibian, but you rarely see them. My friend, Paul Benjunas, does an excellent job of photographing them and other amphibians and reptiles.
Spotted salamanders are a type of mole salamander and spend most of their life in tunnels underground. The best way to see them is to go out in the evening after a warm rain in early spring. I have a favorite small vernal pool where I often find them swimming around.
When I took the photo above, I had only noticed two salamanders. Can you see the other two that the camera flash highlighted? For a nice video of spotted salamander's swimming in a vernal pool on the vernal pool association website, click here.
If you get lucky, sometimes you do find one on a cloudy day near at the edge of a vernal pool or under a nearby rock in early spring. If you ever find one, it is best to just watch rather than picking them up. They exchange air through their skin, so they are very sensitive to chemicals (e.g. insect repellent, hand lotion).
One of the biggest dangers to the mole salamanders is the roads they often now need to cross to return to the vernal pools where they hatched.
Wood frogs have trouble too, but they move a lot faster. On the "big night" (salamander rain), hundreds of salamanders can migrate across a road to a large, healthy vernal pool. Luckily, in places there are groups of people that go out to help the salamanders across the road and slow down traffic or even close a section of road. I don't know anywhere in central CT where there is a healthy pool near a busy road, but if you do please let me know as I would love to go help.
If you keep your eyes and ears open, it is amazing what you can discover!
Share what you notice with a family member, friend or neighbor.
I have started to see round or oblong white (or clear) blobs like in the above photo in vernal pools in the last week. Any guesses what they are?