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Eastern Red-backed Salamanders Migrating Downwards

11-4-15 eastern red-backed salamander2 091Eastern Red-backed Salamanders reside in the leaf litter throughout the Northeast during the summer months. Here they scent-mark their territories on the forest floor with pheromones and fecal matter in order to convey information concerning their body size and gender to other Red-backed Salamanders. If the temperature soars or the humidity drops, these salamanders do just what they do in the fall – seek deeper, moister protected areas such as beneath stones, under and within rotting logs and stumps, or underground in animal burrows.

Whereas they migrate downwards in summer to avoid the heat and dry air that would impair their ability to breathe through their skin, these salamanders are avoiding the approaching cold when they migrate downwards in the fall. Red-backed Salamanders are not freeze tolerant, and thus must avoid freezing temperatures. Once ensconced in a freeze-free hibernaculum, they usually remain there until snowmelt.

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3 responses

  1. is it eastern or northern salamander? you have both.

    November 4, 2015 at 8:10 am

  2. If they don’t have any “anti-freeze” to protect them, how deep do they have to go to avoid freezing? It seems hard to imagine that a salamander could dig its way down below the frost line.

    November 4, 2015 at 9:48 am

    • I’ve read they go as far as 15″ deep, in rodent tunnels, etc.

      November 4, 2015 at 2:13 pm

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