12 April 2010

A well hidden salamander

I found this small salamander while looking for slugs yesterday morning. It was under a pile of leaves stuck among the roots of a beech tree. It attempted to crawl into a crevice, but I was able to retrieve it by gently pulling on its tail, which, luckily, didn't break off.

I believe it's a lead-backed morph of the eastern red-backed salamander (Plethodon cinereus). Both this morph and the red-backed morphs seem to be the most common salamanders around this parts of Maryland.

Once it was in my hand, it was very lively and kept crawling between my fingers trying to get away. Noble wrote in his book The Biology of the Amphibia that "Salamanders, frogs, and toads may be readily thrown into a state of tonic immobility which, under certain circumstances, may prove a protective measure...It is commonly seen in such salamanders as Plethodon and Ambystoma, which when handled gently often exhibit a 'death feint'".

This particular individual had obviously not read Noble's book.

1 comment:

Julia said...

What a cute salamander. I have very fond memories of finding the red-backed morphs under logs in the woods around my house in Ijamsville when I was a little kid.

Down here in Kentucky, I am surrounded by lizards!!