Herp Update: salamander in snow, overwintering treefrog, NBNC Amphibian Road Crossing Program
we have had a couple more reports of Spotted Salamanders moving over the snow. As I mentioned before, this is usually the result of some sort of disturbance by a fox, coyote, turkey, deer, human, etc. In a photo taken by Jenny S from Vernon you could see Spotted Salamander tracks in the snow (attached).
Sue S from Hinesburg sent in a report and photo (attached) of another Gray Treefrog brought in with a plant and spending the winter inside. It would be interesting to know if the treefrog was in the soil in the pot, or on the plant itself when it was brought in. We don’t have much information on overwintering locations for Gray Treefrogs. I have had reports of them being found in the leaves that were caught in rain gutters, and also when I worked at Middlebury College, one came down with a large oak branch in a midwinter storm. It had to have been tucked into some small opening or it would have dried out and died. Until these sightings, I had assumed all treefrogs would overwinter in the leaf litter on the ground. I still suspect most do, but we don’t know that for sure.
Along with Spring Peeper, Wood Frog, and Boreal Chorus Frog, Gray Treefrogs are freeze tolerant. Moisture between their cells freezes, their heart stops, their lungs stop, and as long as the antifreeze (sugars) in their cells can keep their cells from freezing, they thaw out in the spring perfectly healthy without having eaten in seven months. A Gray Tree frog in the house on the other hand, will remain active and must not only stay moist but also feed over the winter.
Zac Cota-Weaver and North Branch Nature Center are gearing up for spring migration. Zac sent along the attached document on their Amphibian Road Crossing Program. Otter Creek Audubon and the Salisbury Conservation Commission will not be hosting public amphibian crossing events this spring. That should not stop you from getting out on your own though. It won’t be long now.Jim Andrews
642 Smead Road
Salisbury, VT 05769
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