On a warm rainy night I found this little guy crawling up to my front door. The comfortable temperature likely caused him to emerge from hiding to seek out a nice place to overwinter. This type of salamander is officially simply called a “Spotted Salamander” however they are also often called “Yellow Spotted Salamanders” too. They aren’t specially rare or endangered but they are rarely seen out in the open. The forests of Muskoka have healthy populations of these salamanders and a number of other varieties too. Spotted salamanders are a type of mole salamander which spends most of its life in underground burrows in the shady woods, mainly in eastern North America. They are fairly large, this one was about 7 inches long, and long-lived too at over 30 years.
Since there isn’t any good salamander habitat around my front door I scooped this one up and put him into a container. They are slow and gentle creatures so there is a temptation to handle them, however I resisted this as their bodies are very sensitive and can be harmed by handling.
Early the next morning we went for a hike into the woods behind my house. I spent some time searching for a tree with a nice exposed root system which would provide lots of underground burrows for the salamander. I also wanted to locate him close to a seasonal pond, a large puddle that floods each year and holds water until August. Those are ideal breeding grounds for salamanders as there will be no fish to prey on eggs or larvae.
The little salamander cooperated for a few photos but was eager to burrow into his new home in the forest. Next spring I will go back out and check the nearby pond for egg masses. I have found salamander eggs in that seasonal pond before so I know there is a good chance it will work for this salamander too. Below are a few more photos of the salamander on colorful fall leaves and crawling around in the forest.