Thursday, November 15, 2012

Long-tailed Salamander

A crew consisting of (L to R) Cheryl Harner, David Hughes, John Howard, and Vince Howard fixate on a very cool reptile perched atop that rock slab. Said reptile is not the subject of this post, but I do intend to get to the beast at a later date.

This photo was made back on August 18, and we found a veritable treasure trove of intriguing flora and fauna along this rocky little Scioto County stream. Such excursions into habitats rich in biodiversity generally net me far more blog material than I can get to in any sort of prompt manner, if ever, so sometimes I like to go back in time and revisit overlooked items.

A beautiful Long-tailed Salamander, Eurycea longicauda, peeks coyly at your narrator from the streambed. We were understandably quite pleased to find not one, but two of these charming amphibians hiding amongst the rocks of the creek.

It takes little imagination to infer the reason for the "long tail" part of the animal's name. Long-tailed Salamanders are incredibly alongate, slender, and whiplike. They're many, many, many times longer than wide and that incredible tail comprises over half the length of the animal.

The overall color and pattern of the salamander is exceptional. An adult is a striking shade of muted burnt-orange neatly marked with rows of small ebony blotches. Turning a rock and discovering a Long-tailed Salamander is always a momentous occasions.

Long-tailed Salamanders are common in many of the areas that they occur in Ohio, and the range extends across much of southern and eastern Ohio. They're secretive, and you're unlikely to stumble into one without working a bit. Carefully turning rocks and logs, especially in damp areas near watercourses, is the way to find one.

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