Friends of Kootenay Blog

Access stories and photos about the natural and human history of Kootenay National Park and Columbia Valley Includes highlights about the Friends of Kootenay National Park activities and programs.

 

Long-toed Salamander

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Long-toed Salamanders are rarely seen above ground during the day. But mass salamander migration across highway 93 has been witnessed at night near Kootenay Pond. 

Photo by Larry Halverson
 

This dark grey salamander sports an irregular green or yellowish stripe along the middle of the back. It is named for the long fourth toe on their hind legs.

One of the neatest things about the salamanders is that they can regenerate body parts. So if a leg or tail is removed by a predator, the salamander can simply grow it back! However, most predators have learned to leave salamanders alone because when disturbed they secrete a distasteful poison from glands on their back and tail.

When it comes to vehicles, salamanders don’t fare so well. Studies in Waterton Lakes National Park showed that vehicles were killing between 10% to 41% of the salamander population attempting to cross roads. So Parks Canada responded by installing tunnels under the road to provide a relatively safe passage between the salamanders’ over-wintering habitat and their breeding areas. It worked - Salamander deaths from vehicle traffic in Waterton was reduced to 0.6% and 1.6% of the population.