My life is about living with nature – here you can live it with me!

Less Daylight Hours and Spotted Salamanders

Spotted Salamander
Spotted Salamander heading towards the woods.

I did a post almost 7 months ago on the migration of the Spotted Salamander. Each spring these large salamanders come out of the ground and migrate to special mud puddles called vernal pools. It is in these vernal pools where they breed and the females will lay their eggs. It is such an amazing spring time event and who would expect that I would find two of these salamanders crossing the roads during mid October (going the opposite direction?)?

Spotted Salamander

When you think about it . . . . the amount of daylight hours is what helps trigger birds into migrating during the spring and fall months. It is my “assumption” that in the spring the Spotted Salamanders are also using daylight hours to help trigger their migration to vernal pools. Now, what says that the shorting of daylight hours isn’t sending these Salamanders back to their wintering areas?? Did I mention they are mole salamanders and live 3 meters underground? I have no proof and only making an assumption at this point.

Then again, just maybe I am only seeing them moving around this evening because we are finally getting a little rain? But, why don’t I see them moving around like this during summer months?? Any herp people like to put their thoughts on why I saw a mini-mini migration of these guys this evening?

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Related Post:
Mon@rch Salamander Migration Post
Salamander Migration Wikipedia
Roger Tory Peterson’s – Vernal Pool Project

21 responses

  1. i’m not an expert but what about Global Warming? Don’t you think that has changed the migration habits of many speices? ~nita~

    27 October 2007 at 12:54 am

  2. It’s wayyy cool you spotted these crossing the road back to their wintering area! Your theory makes sense to me. I love your photos, as usual! 😀

    27 October 2007 at 8:07 am

  3. Lisa at Greenbow

    You lucky naturalist. I would love to see one of these anytime. I bet they are migrating back to their winter hibernation grounds.

    Indiana now has a herpatologist. I have always wanted the opportunity to follow him around in some neat habitat. Like a good birder I bet a good herp person could show you all kinds of herps that one misses out on their own.

    27 October 2007 at 9:01 am

  4. Sarah

    It is true that some sallies wait until fall to move back to good wintering grounds. Some return immediately after laying eggs, but some wait. So fall migration it is! Very cool.

    27 October 2007 at 9:27 am

  5. I can’t get over your pictures. What a camera (and photographer!) That salamander really has personality.

    27 October 2007 at 9:29 am

  6. @ nita – LOL, Hard to say but there is proof their has been some changes in birds due to climate change.
    @ Pam – Thanks
    @ Lisa- thanks and I am learning here also!
    @ Sarah – thanks and do you think it’s an age thing on how long it takes for them to return? Or maybe amount of food? It was a dry year!!
    @ Erie – thanks and these were taken with my point and shoot! Up closer and personal is how I love to take pictures!

    27 October 2007 at 10:48 am

  7. AWESOME picture, as usual! The face to face pic might be my all time favorite. He’s smiling at you, what a gracious model! Too cool.

    27 October 2007 at 1:05 pm

  8. Oh my! Looks like he’s grinning at you! What a great shot Tom.

    27 October 2007 at 2:06 pm

  9. The second guy – how did you capture such a wonderful expression. (Do salamaders have expressions?)

    27 October 2007 at 6:15 pm

  10. Grace

    And one for each of the spotted salamanders.
    🙂 🙂
    😦 (R.I.P)

    27 October 2007 at 9:16 pm

  11. @ Chicago – thanks and you must not have seen the
    this cute picture that I took! It’s my fave!
    @ Jayne – thanks and just happy he didn’t get run over!
    @ Barb – Thanks and when I took its picture I said “Say Worms” and it smiled! Always seems to work with these guys so I just continue saying it!
    @ Grace – should have been 🙂 then 😦 !! It appears the road was full of leaves and someone didn’t noticed the large salamander! Thanks

    27 October 2007 at 9:34 pm

  12. I love these guys–have seen only one a few years ago.
    I tried (unsuccessfully) to find them this spring–there’s a formula that predicts almost exactly which night they will be out on the move. Something about an hour into the first rain, temps above 50, after dark–that’s a trigger.
    I found this note from a Binghamton.Edu site: The salamanders’ return trip in the fall is much less synchronous than their spring migration. “Some will make movements out of the pond right away. Others wait to the end of the summer to make the return trip,” he said.

    27 October 2007 at 11:17 pm

  13. That is pretty neat. Used to see them when I lived in the mountains, but not so often down here in the river valley.

    28 October 2007 at 8:50 am

  14. Sarah

    I read somewhere that the older sallies will give younger ones the best foraging spots. Interesting behavior for such a small creature. Taking care of the next generation. So it may be that the older ones just stayed put and let the younger ones find the best spots. Or it could be weather, but I know that I never had a problem finding critters under logs for meal time so they probably didn’t either. The advantage of living underground…

    28 October 2007 at 10:46 am

  15. @ Nina – thanks and I appreciate the info on the Binghamton University info! I think I heard this professor present a paper at a conference a few years ago! Their info from their website looks very familiar to me. Thanks again!
    @ threecollie – thanks and surprised you don’t get blue-spots down in the valley!
    @ Sarah – wow, that is very interesting for sure! Does sound unusual for sure! Thanks again!

    28 October 2007 at 3:49 pm

  16. How absolutely COOL! is this? Thank you, Tom! What a picture. I’m taking my laptop over to my hubby to show him the salamander and owl release.

    29 October 2007 at 7:20 pm

  17. Cathy- so glad and hope he is enjoying this!

    29 October 2007 at 8:14 pm

  18. Chuck Rosenburg


    I think you are right regarding the influence of day length, in combination with other cues such as rainfall and temperature. That’s the only explanation I can come up with every time I hear spring peepers singing in autumn (otherwise known as “fall” peepers).


    29 October 2007 at 10:27 pm

  19. What a funky looking little guy, I love it, neat shot Tom 🙂

    30 October 2007 at 9:20 pm

  20. There is something so neat about your second shot – it completely humanizes these guys… beautiful shot! (I ran into one of the little guys under a stump one day while we were eating smores at our campfire and quoted your site.) You never know where info is going to pass. 🙂 I love the second shot.

    31 October 2007 at 3:42 am

  21. Oh wow, I love the head-on macro/portrait shot, very cool!

    31 October 2007 at 12:25 pm

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