To get to his winter habitat, of course. Jean got a call from a beekeeper in Springville about a band (or maelstrom, if you prefer) of tiger salamanders crossing the road near her home. Salamanders are pretty fast but they’re no match for a ’09 Buick. Jean sprang into action to rescue at least a few of these intrepid amphibians (thank you, Margaret!) and relocate them to our wetland. Others she helped get to “the other side” so they could continue their journey to their winter home. And where IS a salamander’s winter home? About four feet underground, according to Jean.
Check out Jean’s short video here
It was early morning and the dozen or so salamanders that came to the Nature Center arrived fairly chilly and sluggish. Jean wanted to measure and weigh each of them before releasing them into our wetland. I joined the rest of the staff peering into the tub under the leaves to check out the new arrivals. She picked up the first one, a rather good-sized specimen as salamanders go – at least 8.5 inches and nearly 2 ounces in weight. I was still peering into the tub when she those three words…”pick one up.” Never did that before. I reached in and then pulled back. “Are you afraid?” she chided. Cleansing breath.
I’m not sure what I expected – something more rough like a lizard or firm and muscular like a snake. Nope. This salamander felt a lot like a gummy worm, a gummy worm that had been in the refrigerator. She was pretty small – only about 4 inches and weighed just 0.4 oz. And no, I don’t really know if “she” was a she…I just decided she was because of her small size. I named her Myrtle.
Jean finished weighing and measuring…and rounding up the occasionally escapee…and back into the tub they went for their trip to their new habitat. The kids from Willow Wind Academy came out for their field trip and got an unexpected bonus of helping release Myrtle and her pals into the wetland.
Jean built them a small shelter to help get them started and under the bright sunshine, they scurried into their new home. We’ll check up on them come springtime.