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Spring Migrations Have Begun!

Posted on Apr 13, 2015

So I’ve got a bit of a funny story for you and it goes a little something like this: last Thursday night, as we suspected, warm overnight rains began to draw spotted salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum), spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer), and other amphibians out from their winter refuges. They began their journeys to nearby vernal pools, but some of them took detours in the process. My husband Tyler and I were house and pet sitting for my parents while they were on vacation. Behind their home is a series of ponds that make up a beautiful wetland system, and vernal pools are abundant throughout the woods surrounding it.


Who wouldn’t want to live in this beautiful wetland or in the surrounding forests?! This particular wetland is quite expansive and stretches through a large portion of the valley nestled at the bottom of mostly wooded hills. These wetland areas, as well as the many vernal pools nearby have lots of vegetation around the edges, which make great anchors for amphibians to attach their egg masses to.

Shortly after my husband began doing some work in the garage, he came back into the house and said he had found what he thought was a toad and asked if I wanted to take a look at it. So I went into the garage only to find that it was actually a spring peeper attempting to hide next to the wood stove. Thankfully the wood stove wasn’t running, so I was able to scoop him up and dust him off a bit.

Spring Peeper

No this is not a rare orange spotted spring peeper. This little male had been hanging around the flower bed in front of the house which happened to have red mulch in it.

Before taking the little guy outside, I asked Tyler to grab my camera from upstairs. So he brought it down to me and then returned to the garage. As I was just about to open the front door to return our froggy friend to the outside world, I heard a sudden, “Woah!” come from the garage. I quickly made my way into the garage only to find my husband looking at a large spotted salamander making its way to the air compressor. Clearly garages aren’t the safest place for amphibians. Tyler was completely flabbergasted by how large the salamander was, as he is used to me pulling little stream salamanders out from underneath rocks to show them off to him. With the peeper still resting in one hand, I carefully scooped up the salamander and promptly took them both outside. I set them down in the grass and Tyler came out behind me only to discover another salamander and several peepers hanging out in the flower bed in the front of the house. So we grabbed our flashlight and found yet another spotted salamander, and dozens of peepers, some of which were beginning to call their loud but welcoming call.

Spotted Salamander (1)

Here is one of three spotted salamander males that were making their way to their breeding pools with cloacas full of spermatophores ready to be released for females to fertilize their eggs with (we’ll post more info on this later).

Spotted Salamander Up-Close

Although these salamanders are large and can take one off guard if they’ve never been seen close up before (like in my husband’s case), they are so likeable as they always seem to have a smile on their face.

Although I’ve witnessed some spectacular spotted salamander migrations in the past, this one was just as special. These species, as well as spring peepers and wood frogs, are so secretive throughout a majority of the year that it is always a surprise to see them move in such large numbers. As more warm rainy nights are on the way, the movement of amphibians to their breeding grounds will continue. While these migrations go on, we will post more interesting information and photos of these spectacular amphibians, so stay tuned!

Elyse Henshaw
Conservation Technician