18 November 2008

Dead spotted salamander

An unexpected find last Sunday–I wasn't even searching for anything–was a spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum). It was on the street and I rode by it on my trike. I had gone several meters before it dawned on me that what I had seen was probably not a piece of stick. So I turned back for a 2nd look. This is one advantage of riding a recumbent trike: you are much closer to the ground and so are more likely to spot the interesting stuff on the roads than you would be on an ordinary bike.

The salamander was stiff and unresponsive to touch. Best of all, it wasn't yucky or smelly. So I wrapped it in a paper napkin and brought it home in my vest pocket.


If it were straight, it would be about 14 cm long, within the size range of 11.2 to 19.8 cm White & White give for the species (Amphibians and Reptiles of Delmarva by James F. White, Jr. & Amy Wendt White, 2002). It is definitely an adult. There were no external injuries that I could see. We will put down the cause of death as exposure. According to White & White, the spotted salamander is "primarily a subterranean animal". What was this individual doing on the road then?


After I took its pictures, I wanted to dissect it, primarily to examine its gut contents to see if it had eaten any snails. But I already had too many other things to do, therefore postponed the dissection for a rainy day when I am less busy. With my wife's permission, the amphibian is now in the freezer of the spare refrigerator.


Michael Hoelling said...

Interesting thing, spot a caudate lissamphibian while riding your Anura :-)
(In Germany the term Urodela was formerly used)

Greetings from Germany


It's good to hear from you Michael. Hope all is well.

I did consider getting a Hase Kettwiesel instead of the Greenspeed Anura, but they were more expensive!