Monday 5 October 2015

The Little Things

Sometimes I spend an inordinate amount of time looking for the big wildlife species, forgetting that there is a fascinating micro world beneath our very feet!  I was out at a work site this morning and snapped a few pictures of some very special (and tiny) salamanders and newts.

First up were many of these Eastern Newts, which are called "Red Efts" during their terrestrial life cycle.  They are toxic to consume and they warn predators of this with their bright colours!  

I am used to finding Red-backed Salamanders while in the woods, but the diminutive size of this one took me by surprise!  It couldn't have been much more than 1cm long!  These are by far the most common salamander in the forest and you have a very good chance of finding one by flipping small rotten logs in any southern Ontario forest.  They are unique among salamanders in that they live a fully terrestrial life cycle, never spending time in the water.  Eggs are laid under fallen logs and are protected by the parents aggressively!

I put them both on the same leaf for a nice size comparison

And finally, the best salamander of all, an Endangered Jefferson Salamander! Without genetic analysis it is impossible to tell for sure if this one is a pure Jefferson Salamander since they occasionally interbreed with other similar species.  Jefferson Salamanders belong to a group called "mole salamanders" meaning they spend much of their lives underground.  

Don't forget to enjoy the little things in life!


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