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Eastern Red-backed Salamanders Headed for Hibernation

11-20-13  eastern red-backed salamander 120Unless you spend time looking beneath rotting logs or sifting through the leaf litter, you’re not apt to see an Eastern Red-backed Salamander, even though they are prolific in our woods. Studies have found over 1,000 of these salamanders inhabiting one square acre of woodlands. Eastern Red-backed Salamanders are not freeze tolerant so they must spend the winter in locations that don’t freeze if they are to survive. Once the temperature drops to the 30’s and 40’s, they migrate downwards and hibernate in deep leaf litter, under rocks or in rock crevices, and as much as 15 inches under the ground in animal burrows.

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7 responses

  1. Elizabeth

    I read somewhere that the biomass of New Hampshire’s Red-backed Salamanders exceeds that of any other vertebrate species in the state (e.g. moose weigh a lot more; but there are relatively few of them). Has anyone else heard that confirmed? Not sure if humans are included in those statistics.

    November 20, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    • I haven’t run across that statement, Elizabeth — Cornell has this to say about them:

      In a New Hampshire study, researchers found that the biomass of red
      -backed salamanders equaled that of mice and shrews and was twice that of forest
      birds (excluding raptors).

      November 20, 2013 at 8:38 pm

  2. I hope you are right, but find that highly unlikely seeing that the Red-backed Salamander has been loosing natural habitat for many years thanks to humanity’s lack of understanding, or determined ignorance, of the environment.

    November 20, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    • My understanding is that their population is not in decline – where they are found, they are abundant. They are very sensitive to acid soils and clearcutting, so these conditions are exceptions.

      November 20, 2013 at 8:36 pm

  3. Oops! ‘Losing’ is what I meant, -1 sp., if you remember that from school days!

    November 20, 2013 at 10:25 pm

    • Just read your comments, Mary. I am glad to hear that. I just wonder what you meant by they mind acid soils. Does that mean they are more abundant in Vermont where less acidic soils are the norm than the more acidic NH soils?

      November 20, 2013 at 10:31 pm

      • I don’t know the answer to your question, but it would make sense if that were so, as they can’t tolerate and don’t inhabit acidic soil.

        November 21, 2013 at 12:21 am

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