I wasn't even to what I thought would be the best place to start looking for salamanders, when there it appeared on the road ahead. A mammoth Tiger Salamander, waddling across the road looking like a mini Komodo Dragon! This one was nearly a foot long, and I quickly jumped out to admire him. I took numerous other photos, but few came out and I have to apologize for that. Conditions were rather tough last night, with a good wind and steady, often driving rain, which made photography conditions less than ideal. After checking this dude out, I made sure to put him in the grass on the side of the road to which he was headed. Amphibian mortality on roads is staggering, especially for slow-movers like salamanders. It turned out this was the only Ambystoma tigrinum I saw that night - alive. I went on to find two more, but both were very fresh road kills.
Here's the range map of Tiger Salamander, courtesy of the OhioSalamanders.com website. This shows a classic pattern shared by a number of other animals, and many plants. Ohio represents the eastward limits of distribution for many western prairie species, and researchers searching for Tiger Salamanders and other species with prairie affinities would do well to acquaint themselves with the former prairie regions of Ohio, as that's where relict populations are still likely to lurk.I also came across this Small-mouth Salamander, Ambystoma texanum. This is one of the more common and widespread of the Ohio mole salamanders. They have an interesting gait. When walking, it brings its rear foot forward to nearly the middle of its body, while simultaneously bring the front foot on the same side back just as far. This creates a rather comical waddling shuffle, involving much arching of the body and side to side movement.
The early spring chorusing of frogs always means winter is unleashing its grip on Ohio, and hearing scores of these Spring Peepers, Pseudacris crucifer, last night was welcome. I saw far more than I heard, though - in places, the roads were alive with them. I estimated I saw somewhere in the neighborhood of 500-700 last night. They were really on the move. All of the tiny tree frogs that I had a good look at on the roads were this species, although I also heard a number of Western Chorus Frogs, Pseudacris triseriata. The specific epithet crucifer means cross, and this frog is so named for that cross-shaped pattern on the back.