(by Jane Kolias)
Spotted salamanders (Abystoma maculatum) are one of the most common salamanders in New Hampshire as well as one of the largest, measuring up to 9 inches in length. They are striking with their dark coloration adorned with bright yellow spots. These secretive amphibians are also among the most difficult to see. That is because they spend most of their life hidden underground or beneath logs, leaf litter or rocks. Your best opportunity to see a Spotted Salamander is when they emerge in the early spring during warm rainy nights, sometimes even before the snow disappears completely, to seek out vernal pools in which to breed and deposit eggs. Their breeding activities completed; they will retreat underground until emerging once again the following spring.
Spotted Salamanders (along with other spring emerging amphibians) suffer high mortality rates from vehicles as they attempt to cross roadways that are between their woodland homes and their vernal breeding pools. Many conservation organizations and citizen science groups sponsor “amphibian crossings brigades” each spring where volunteers move migrating amphibians across the road by hand. This not only saves individual amphibians but helps safeguard populations of Spotted Salamanders and other amphibians.
Links to learn more about Spotted Salamanders:
Photo: National Park Service