| Story by Laura Kiran |
Try to find a salamander in its natural habitat, and you might be in for a challenge. These elusive little amphibians seldom venture out into the open air, spending most of their adult lives tucked away in underground burrows or undetected under leaves and logs scattered throughout the forest floor. They are also nocturnal by nature, making it even more difficult to see one during an afternoon hike in the preserves.
“Salamanders in general are special because they are hidden most of the time,” explained Suzy Lyttle, interpretive naturalist for the Forest Preserve’s Plum Creek Nature Center at Goodenow Grove Nature Preserve. “The only time we see salamanders in full force is in the spring when they are migrating from their underground homes to the wetland to breed and lay eggs.”
When Forest Preserve staff have been fortunate enough to catch a glimpse, the most common species found belong to the mole salamander family. Mole salamanders get their name because of their preference for underground living, and all members of this family seek out fishless bodies of water to lay their eggs. These salamanders have an aquatic larval stage similar to frogs starting out as tadpoles, so laying their eggs in fishless waters gives the young a better chance for survival.
According to Lyttle, three species of salamanders belonging to the mole salamander family have been found at Goodenow Grove: the eastern tiger salamander, the spotted salamander and the blue-spotted salamander.