Salamanders are very unique creatures. They’re amphibians, so they spend their life moving between water and land, always staying close to a water source. While they look like lizards, with a long body and tail and two pairs of legs coming off the sides of their body, they have no scales, and are smooth and moist to the touch. Most salamanders are opportunistic predators, and will feed on anything that’s about the right size for them. Because of their life strategies, salamanders live near water and can’t travel very far from a water source, making it difficult for a population to move to better habitat. For salamanders native to the dry regions of the American west and southwest, this can be harder than it sounds. Many salamander species in these regions are threatened or endangered due to several factors pertaining to their habitats. Habitat degradation, through logging, overgrazing, and the draining of wetlands can devastate a population of salamanders by disrupting the creeks, plants, and animals of their home. Populations are often separated by roads, which can be a source of mortality when salamanders try to cross these roads and are struck by cars. Salamanders are also injured or killed when water sources are modified, either physically or chemically. The construction of dams, introduction of pollution, human recreation, and creation of canals can all hurt a salamander population and kill individuals. So what can we do to protect these animals? Here are three easy things we can all do to help salamanders:
This blog is managed by the staff and volunteers of Galena Creek Visitor Center. We write about parts of the natural world that we find fascinating and want to teach others about, as well as keeping you updated on the Visitor Center and park. If you want to learn more, please sign up for our monthly newsletter, where we share upcoming events, updates on the ecology of the park, and highlights from each month.