It looks like a lizard and feels like a frog
Perhaps no other definition sums up a salamander quite so well. In fact, the word salamander comes from a Greek word meaning
However, salamanders lack a number of features that lizards possess:
- scales on their bodies
- claws on their feet
Alberta's "mole salamanders"
although there are four families of salamanders native to Canada, only one family (and in fact, one genus) is present in
Alberta, the Ambystomatidae, or mole salamanders.
The nickname "mole salamanders" applies because these salamanders are seldom seen above ground except during the breeding
season when they migrate to breeding ponds.
In Alberta, there are two species of these salamanders:
- long-toed salamander
- tiger salamander
- Salamanders are relatively large amphibians with long tails.
- Unlike frogs and toads, they do not vocalize, which is another reason they are rarely seen.
- Some salamanders never leave the aquatic stage, but still become mature adults. This phenomenon, called neoteny, may be
an adaptation to particularly dry environments as sometimes found on the prairies. Neoteny sometimes occurs in the tiger
Population monitoring: egg masses and larvae
Identifying eggs and larvae of amphibians can be quite challenging.
Salamander eggs are generally laid individually, rather than in strings or clumps. However, because eggs can quickly
become covered with silt, estimating reproductive success through counting eggs is very difficult.
Once eggs hatch, in early to late May, larvae can be observed. Salamander larvae are relatively easy to identify because
of their conspicuous external gills.
Larvae can be counted at a convenient time at night during July. The best method for counting salamander larvae is to slowly
wade through the water, shining a bright light on the surface. A bright light makes the larvae easier to see than trying
to count them during the day.
Census Because newly transformed salamanders often quickly disperse from the breeding pond, it is unlikely that a young-of-the-year
census would be worthwhile and therefore, for salamanders at least, monitoring efforts should be concentrated on the larval
Posted: Oct 15, 2009