amphibians in winter

dirtgirl(So. Illinois)January 28, 2007

Well, winter-or at least winter cold - has finally come to visit here in So Illinois. There's still been no snow, and thankfully none of the ice that plagued our neighbors to the west. The sunshine is deceptive...with the wind chill it's right about 3 degrees F outside. I put out fresh water for the birds and it was slushing over after 15 minutes--and it's out of the wind!

All this has me thinking about the eggs in the first ditch. I imagine a bunch of shivering little embryos! I was crossing the first slough about a week ago as was shocked to see little clumps of eggs on the plant stems...the amphibians have been at it already here. Come to think of it, we did have a salamander on the garage steps a few weeks ago, but there just seems to be something wrong with the notion of something like that strolling around in the middle of January.

The story here is much the same as other places I have seen in the news...our winters temps on average are something like 20 degrees above normal. With the exception of the few artic fronts that have blasted through, we are staying in the upper 40s much of the time. Moths at the porch light are common anymore.

Call me crazy but I wouldn't mind some snow. I love certain things about all the seasons and it seems like we are just going from fall right into spring anymore.

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Elly_NJ(NJ z6)

Patrick,

Obviously you are new to this forum. If you were not, you would be silent instead of rude. No one appreciates your nasty comments.

Instead of "wasting" your Miltonian mind here, why don't you just swallow your bile and spew it elswhere? You must have something else to do that is more productive than vent your hate here.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2007 at 9:38PM
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wayne_mo(MO)

Salamanders are pretty cold weather tolerant. The Tiger and Spotted Salamanders normally start migrating to breeding ponds around Valentine's Day. Easy courtship day to remember...

I haven't seen any salamanders or sign of them yet this year (but haven't been out much) but I did see 4 snakes on January 8th. We've had more snow and cold here in Missouri than last winter. Last year I saw 3 snakes on New Year's Day and over 20 in the month of January. We had hardly any snow at all last winter.

P.S. Oh yeah, I noticed and answered your albinism question from awhile back regarding the snake in the Missouri Conservationist (its now on page 2 of this forum) that the magazine identified as an "albino copperhead." You were right that it was not a copperhead..rather it was an albino prairie kingsnake.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2007 at 10:40PM
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dirtgirl(So. Illinois)

Wayne, is there a way to tell salamander eggs from frog eggs at an early stage?
These seemed pretty early in development but the embryos were already rather elongated. I didn't get an exact count but there must have been a dozen or so in this one mass. That they were attached at all is something considering that entire area was a boiling mess with the floods a week earlier.
The salamander that we discovered poking about the steps most closely resembled a smallmouth salamander, Ambystoma texanum, as listed in my field guide to Amps and Reps put out by the Illinois Natural History Survey.. I see many larval salamanders in this same old creek channel later in the spring but to my untrained eye they all look the same.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2007 at 12:15AM
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