|Florida Nature: Salamanders|
Salamanders are amphibians that have long tails and moist skin. All
salamanders must keep their skin moist because it is comparatively soft
and does not protect them against loss of moisture. For this reason they
require damp environments. Even the land species are usually found in
shady, wooded areas near water. Some burrow into damp ground. With the
exception of sirens and amphiumas, salamanders look basically like
scaleless lizards. Southern people often call salamanders "spring
lizards" because they are often seen near springs. But unlike lizards,
salamanders have neither claws, nor scales, and their legs are so short
that their bellies drag on the ground. Being amphibians, most
salamanders undergo metamorphosis. Unlike frogs salamanders don't lose
their tails when they change from the larval stage to adults. What would
be called the tadpole stage in frogs is called the larval stage in
salamanders. Salamanders can regenerate limbs as well as tails and can
even regenerate eye retinas and severed optic nerves.
Marbled Salamander- Adult marbled salamanders live in damp woodlands, often close to ponds or streams. These salamanders are occasionally can be found around dry hillsides, but never far from a moist environment. The marbled salamander ranges in size from about 3 to 5 inches in total length. The ground color is black, and there are numerous silver-white crossbands, giving the marbled appearance for which the species is named. There is considerable variation in the crossbanding pattern, as in some individuals they are extensively connected, and in others the connection is minimal. The nesting female typically curls herself around the eggs while waiting for rain to fill nest cavity. The larvae usually hatch a few days after inundation. If autumn rains are scant, eggs may not hatch until spring.
Mole Salamander- The mole salamander, Ambystoma talpoideum, is fairly common in Florida. Adults are nondescript, usually having a fairly uniform ground color that ranges from a muted bluish-gray to nearly black. Mole salamanders rarely get larger than 4.5 inches in total length. The mole salamander is a stout species with a broad depressed head. The head and feet seem too big for the body. the mole salamander burrows but is often found under logs and in other damp places. Mole salamanders will gather in temporary ponds in early spring to reproduce.
Eastern Tiger Salamander- The tiger salamander is one of the largest terrestrial salamanders in the United States. The biggest specimen recorded was 13 inches long. The average size ranges between seven and eight inches. It is stocky with sturdy limbs and a long tail. The body color is dark brown, almost black, and irregularly marked with yellow to olive colored blotches. The only other salamander with which it might be confused is the smaller spotted salamander. The spotted, however, has two rows of regular, yellow-to-orange spots running parallel down its back, as distinct from the irregularly distributed spots of the tiger salamander. The tiger salamander spends most of its life underground, as do other members of the group referred to as "mole salamanders." The eastern tiger salamander ranges along the east coast from southern New York to northern Florida, west from Ohio to Minnesota and southward through eastern Texas to the Gulf. . It takes four to five years for the salamanders to reach sexual maturity and they may live for 12-15 years. The tiger salamander eats invertebrates and small vertebrates.
Flatwoods Salamander- The flatwoods salamander is medium-sized, reaching an adult length of 5 inches (13 centimeters). Body color ranges from silvery gray to black, with the back heavily mottled with a variable gray cross-band pattern. The underside is plain gray with faint creamy blotches. The head is small and equal to the neck in diameter. The flatwoods salamander used to crawl over 100 million acres of longleaf pine habitat in the Southeastern United States. Now there is less than 3 million acres of habitat left . The best time to flatwoods salamanders are at night, when they come out for food. They are solitary creatures who live alone and spend most of the daylight hours in underground burrows or in cool, damp crevices under rocks or logs. They have fragile bodies and should be handled as little as possible.
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