I consider myself a mellow, enterprising guy. I snuggle into small, abandoned burrows and transform them into a home. Most people wouldn’t like living under rotting wood, but I’d hate to see it go to waste! After a warm rain I’ll stretch my limbs and enjoy the feel of the forest floor against my blue-spotted skin. I may be blue, but I'm not a downer. I just try to make the best of every day. For instance, sometime my tail detaches from my body, but that doesn't stress me; unlike most animals my tail grows back!
That said, I could use a little help keeping my home clean.
The blue-spotted salamander (Ambystoma laterale) sports a black body with pale blue spots. It usually resides in moist, deciduous hardwood forests and swampy woodlands, but the blue-spotted salamander also can be found in underbrush, leaf litter, logs or near rocks. Spiders, centipedes, slugs and earthworms are one the salamander’s preferred menu.
The blue-spotted salamander needs vernal ponds (temporary wetlands that retain water in mid-summer) for breeding grounds, attaching its eggs to twigs, rocks or plants at the edge of the water. Vernal ponds are crucial to reproduction because they are safe from predators. Urban development and habitat fragmentation have caused both the loss of the salamander's forest home and the removal of vernal ponds.
DID YOU KNOW?
Blue-spotted salamanders begin mating at two years old, and females can lay up to 500 eggs annually.
Hybrid salamanders, mostly females, occur from the mating of the blue-spotted salamander and another salamander of a different variety.
Blue-spotted salamanders detach their tail as a mechanism to escape attacking predators.
IF YOU COULD DO ONE THING TO HELP...
Support local wetland conservation programs and support organic farms.
Habitat and water quality in vernal ponds are the determining factors in the status of the blue-spotted salamanders. Supporting wetlands restoration will help the species to thrive, and buying organic is a critical component. Reducing the amount of pesticides in agriculture will reduce the amount of contaminated runoff, improving the quality of breeding grounds for the blue-spotted salamander.
Chicago Wilderness works with two lead partners, Illinois Natural History Survey and National Great Rivers Research and Education Center (NGRREC), to drive blue-spotted salamander conservation efforts. The lead partners, in turn, coordinate with numerous other organizations across the region. The blue-spotted salamander conservation effort is part of the Chicago Wilderness Priority Species Focus Area.
Sources: Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Nature Works