Burning the Grasses 2013
The Bewitching 'Katharine Hodgkins'

The Spotted Salamander - Ambystoma maculatum

Cooper's reaction to spotted newtIf you have never before seen a spotted salamander your reaction might be something like Cooper's. They are curiously prehistoric looking and a quizzical cock of the head is a natural reaction to this unexpected and shy creature. Cooper wanted to play but the salamander was not in the mood. I actually found two of these creatures in the fishpond. The pump was not working properly so I pulled it out of the pond and, akin to a horror film, the back end of one was hanging out of the pump. Not pretty since the pump was still working. Spotted salamanderThat one did not survive. The screen covering the pump intake had fallen off the pump into the bottom of the pond. I did scoop the pond for about an hour trying in vain to find that screen. No luck but in the muck of leaves which came out of the pond this other spotted salamander struggled to find her way back into the water.  I had to take a few pictures before helping her on her way. I did read that this amphibian can live a long life, up to twenty years. Spotted newtThis one was about six inches long and quite fat as you can see. They can grow to nine inches long and while they look like a tasty treat they secrete a milky toxin which helps keep them safe from predators. This salamander is carnivorous eating worms, crickets and other creatures. It is also nocturnal emerging at night to feed and mate. The spotted salamander lays its eggs in vernal pools which is, no doubt, why these were in the pond. I do hope they were not a pair. The first unfortunate salamander was laid to rest under a blue holly bush. I often see the common salamander but I had never seen one like this prior to this unfortunate occasion. I am sorry for the loss of one but the other will, hopefully, have a long life and many babies.