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Solitary Salamanders

You may have some things in common with Tiger Salamanders this Labour Day long weekend: spending time in water and on land, and physical distancing! The Blotched Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma mavortium) is a subspecies of the Western Tiger Salamander and, in Canada, can only be seen in BC and Saskatchewan. They are solitary creatures outside of the spring mating season so would have no issue staying 6 feet apart.

Tiger Salamanders are an endangered species. Tiger Salamanders hatch and develop in ponds, and then transition to life on land as adults. In the terrestrial phase of their life cycle, they live in grasslands where they burrow down into in loose soil. When available, these salamanders will move into abandoned rodent burrows to make their homes.

Sometimes, if conditions are especially good in the pond, instead of transitioning to terrestrial salamanders, some adults will retain their juvenile features (gills and tail fins) and remain in the water. This is a condition called neoteny.

Habitat loss including wetland development, is predominantly why this species is red-listed in BC. Other damaging factors to wetland areas such as chemical runoff from agriculture, roads, and buildings is an example of water pollution that is extremely harmful to salamanders because, like frogs, they "breathe" through their skin. Therefore they experience drastic and sudden harm when water quality is reduced. This is the main reason that amphibians are considered "indicator species" for the health of certain ecosystems.

To learn more about amphibians and species at risk in our area, click here for our amphibians page!

We hope everyone stays safe and healthy this weekend. Happy Labour Day!

Photo credit: David Cunnington


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