Salamander Situations & Solutions

Amphibians all around the world are in trouble. Three of the 11 salamander species in Massachusetts are listed under the state’s endangered species act. Many salamanders perish when they cross roads to reach their breeding pools, and loss of habitat is another major threat. 

Salamanders Crossing Roads

Some salamander species emerge from their underground wintering sites to migrate to their breeding pools, temporary water bodies called vernal pools. This annual salamander migration is an exciting spectacle, and usually happens in late winter or early spring on the first rainy night over 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

Unfortunately, many of our roads pass between those upland wintering sites and lowland vernal pools. This causes significant salamander road mortality. You can help these animals by supporting the creation of special tunnels (known as amphibian migration corridors or salamander tunnels) that allow these creatures to cross under roadways. Many towns close specific roads on the first warm rainy nights of spring. You can also help by joining a local volunteer program in which people physically carry salamanders across roads, often while collecting important scientific data.

Loss of Habitat

Many salamanders inhabit very specific habitats, from vernal pools to sphagnum bogs to forests, and need to be able to travel between habitat types. Therefore, habitat degradation is a serious threat. Additionally, salamanders have porous, sensitive skin that readily absorbs toxins, so poor water quality due to acid rain, pollution, and pesticides can impact their survival. You can help by supporting the definition and preservation of critical salamander habitat.

Because they only exist for part of the year, many vernal pools are overlooked when wetlands are identified, and they’re not encompassed by the regulation of the Wetland Protection Act. You can help by identifying and certifying these water bodies and supporting local wetland bylaws in your town that afford more protection to vernal pools. Learn more about vernal pools

About Salamanders

Salamanders are secretive, so much so that most people never encounter them. But these shy creatures are fascinating. Learn more about salamander behavior and their life cycle