Sally the Mander (Critter spotlight)
Happy Sunday Watershed Explorers!
It is going to be a beautiful sunny day, a little chilly, but gorgeous. I hope that you will enjoy some outdoor explorations with your family! I have decided that I will reserve Sundays for critter spotlights. If there is a critter that you wish to learn about, please email me and I will highlight that critter in a future post.
For this first critter spotlight, I would like to talk about the Northern redback salamander (Plethodon cinereus), or as my children have nicknamed it, sally the mander. This little creature can be found in wooded areas under fallen logs, rocks, and even sometimes moist leaf litter. Northern redbacks are carnivores and eat a variety of invertebrates including mites, ants, centipedes, worms, spiders and more. Northern redbacks have two different color patterns, the one they are named after the redback and a leadback phase where they look more dark. Here are two photos that show the difference.
All amphibians have very sensitive skin, so if you are going to handle one, please make certain that you do not have any kind of chemical or lotion on your skin. If you have garden gloves, you can use these to handle the amphibian so that there is no chance of causing harm. If you do handle a salamander or other amphibian with your bare hands, please remember to wash thoroughly before you eat or put your hands near your face!
The two pictures showcased above are salamanders that my children and I found this week, these critters are out enjoying the first signs of spring. If you find a fallen log that you would like to explore, always be sure to be behind the log and roll the log towards you so that the critters can crawl out the other side, allowing you to observe them. It is also important remember to put the critters near the log, not under it, and roll the log back where it was prior to leaving the area.
I wish you all a wonderful Sunday and happy exploring scientists.