This week’s #SpeciesOfTheWeek is the Eastern Red-backed Salamander (Plethodon cinereus). The first photo features 2 red-backed salamanders and a sneaky red-spotted newt eft! The second picture is also an Eastern Red-backed Salamander, but it is a lead-back morph. This is a great example of the two different colour variations that this salamander can have. This little amphibian is one of three salamander species in Ontario which does not have any lungs! This means that the salamanders breathe entirely through their skin. To do this, salamanders must keep their skin moist, which means living in certain environments that allow them to stay cool and damp at all times. Have you ever wondered what can live under rotting logs on the forest floor? Salamanders can! Under rocks and logs, salamanders have the perfect cover to keep them out of the heat on warm summer days. They also have an all-you-can-eat buffet with all of the invertebrates and other insects that live there too. Like other salamanders, red-backed salamanders are most likely to come out on rainy nights and hunt for insects and spiders on the forest floor. It’s important to remember that since salamanders breathe through their skin, humans can make them very sick if we pick them up, due to our natural oils which are foreign to them. Sunscreen and bug spray can be especially damaging to salamanders as they contain harsh chemicals. Please admire these awesome amphibians from afar! If you’re curious if you have any Eastern Red-backed Salamanders in your area, check out this cool interactive map of Ontario! https://www.ontarioinsects.org/herp/index.html?Sort=41&area2=squaresCounties&records=all&myZoom=5&Lat=43.13&Long=-81.22
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