Floridian Nature

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Florida Nature: Salamanders (2)
Slimy Salamander- Slimy Salamanders forage at night and then burrow during the day under leaf litter, rotten logs, and stones. Eggs are usually laid under logs.  In coastal region, eggs are laid annually in late summer and fall. The slimy salamander has an extensive range throughout the eastern and central United States. Starting in central New York and the southern tip of Wisconsin, the range covers much of the eastern seaboard, moving southward to central Florida and the Gulf coast and westward to parts of east Texas and Oklahoma. The slimy salamander has mainly black skin, covered by abundant silver-white or brassy specks, or both; the ventrum has variable shades but is generally lighter than the dorsum. The organism is distinguished from other dark salamanders in its range by the presence of a nasolabial groove.

slimy salamanderMarbled 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.

red salamanderRed Salamander- The Red Salamander can be found in terrestrial or aquatic environments, but are aquatic in winter. In the terrestrial environment they can typically be found in wooded areas under fallen bark, logs, and rocks. Their aquatic preference is in the leaf litter of clean running, cool streams and brooks. The red salamander is a stout-bodied, medium-sized salamander ranging between four and seven inches (10 to 18 cm) in length. There are a few major field marks that can be used to identify this salamander. The dorsum and sides of this salamander vary from a purplish brown to a bright crimson red. Younger specimens are brighter in color, while adults tend to darken with age.

dwarf salamanderDwarf Salamander- The dwarf salamander is aptly named, as it is one of the smallest vertebrates in North America. Full-grown adults frequently weigh less than one gram and may be less than 2 inches long from snout to tail tip. Superficially, the dwarf salamander may look like a tiny southern two-lined salamander, but there is one sure character for diagnosis: The dwarf salamander has only four toes on each of its back feet. Usually found under leaf litter, logs and stones in wet forests, swamps, and pine savanna ponds, the dwarf salamander is bronze with dark brown or black stripes running down the back. The belly is bright yellow.

southern two lined salamanderSouthern two-lined Salamander- The Southern Two-lined Salamander is very similar in appearance to the Northern Two-lined Salamander. They are small and slender with a broad yellow, greenish-yellow, or tan stripe that extends from head to tail. The light dorsal stripe is bordered by uneven black lines and is often marked with a row of dark spots or flecks. The sides of the body are usually yellowish with some dark mottling, and the belly is typically yellow. The best way to distinguish between the Southern and Northern Two-lined Salamander is by geographic range. Southern Two-lined Salamanders are distributed from southern West Virginia to eastern Illinois and south into northern Florida and east Louisiana. Living close to flowing water, both in woodland and open areas, the Two-Lined Salamander can be found under rocks, logs, or leaf mats. During winter months individuals seek shelter and retreat underground.  

Georgia blind salamanderGeorgia Blind Salamander- The Georgia  Blind Salamander is found in clear water in caves where bats are present near the Georgia border. The Georgia Blind Salamander no eyes or pigment. It has bright red feathery external gills, long, thin legs, and a finned tail. It reaches a length of only 3".  Its name is due to the fact that the specimen was first discovered in a 200 foot well in Albany, Georgia. It has since been discovered in Climax Cave in Decatur County Georgia, but for the most part they are distributed in 11 cave systems along the Florida Panhandle around Jackson County. The Georgia blind salamander is the only vertebrate cave dweller in Floridian caves. Georgia blind salamanders live a slow-moving life, creeping over the bottom and up along walls of caves. They are more common close to cave entrances, as food is more plentiful here. They feed on a variety of cave crayfishes, isopods, copepods, and detritus. Because of its limited distribution, the Georgia blind salamander has been seriously threatened by habitat loss. As a result the species is now protected in both states where they reside. So few Georgia Blinds have been collected that little is known about them. Adults retain larval characteristics and are unable to transform to a terrestrial stage. 
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