Herp Update: Cellarmanders, new reports, fundraising – February 18, 2022
Herpers, we were surprised to receive a report of a male Blue-spotted Salamander (see photo below) that was crossing a road in Ferrisburgh on February 12. This is the first February report we have had of this species. Scott Morrical photographed the salamander moving across Ft. Cassin Road during the day. Usually reports this early in the season are the result of some sort of disturbance of the salamander in its wintering location, but we do get very early reports of amphibian movement when the temperatures are warm enough (over freezing but the warmer the more activity), during or shortly after a rain, and with the ground starting to thaw.
We had most of those conditions last night, so Matt Gorton, Abby, Molly, & Kate Kelly; and I all headed out to different locations here in the Lake Champlain Valley to see if any amphibians were moving. The snow in the woods here in the valley was patchy in many places as is often the case during the first migrations. Fortunately for the amphibians though, they were not fooled by the warm and wet conditions. None of us found any amphibians. Perhaps the ground is still too frozen. Amphibians that move this early may freeze to death when the temperature drops once again.
We continue to get the occasional reports of salamanders spending the winter in people’s cellars. The most recent one was of this Spotted Salamander that Kate Brassil (photo below) found in her cellar in Sheldon. Spotted Salamanders follow small mammal tunnels, drain pipes, and any other crack or crevice to get far enough underground not to freeze over the winter. As a result, some of them end up in cellars. In some cases, they can get back out on their own, but often they can not get back out and will need your help when warm wet nights return in April. Until that happens, they need to stay moist and cool.
We surpassed our annual fundraising goal of $25,000 today. Thanks again to all the contributors.
“Anyone who believes that exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.” (Kenneth Boulding, 1973)