Sunday, December 18, 2005

Yesterday (December 17, 2005) I went out to check for salamanders in a Philadelphia city park. I found nothing. This was not entirely a surprise; the temperature was in the low 40s, and the ground had been covered with snow a couple days before. The salamanders I was looking for are redbacks (Plethodon cinereus), and I haven’t read many accounts of finding them in winter.

Other species are active in winter, such as the ambystomids (remember the marbled salamander (Ambystoma opacum)) actually breed in the winter or on cold fall or spring days. Many stream salamanders remain findable if not exactly highly active during the winter, and I’ve read on the herping forums that one can find them if one looks.

Here is where I found nothing – a steep incline where I’ve found redbacks on cool, but not cold, spring and fall days. Here is an action shot of a redback I found in the spring at Valley Forge.

I am going to be going winter salamandering this winter. Winter is not highly rated for herping, but, as the sage said, herp activity records often reflect the activity patterns of herpetologists rather than herps. You’ve heard that line, haven’t you? So in the next few months I’ll be looking for critters on days that really don’t look like they should be good days for the critters. Wish me luck.

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