Monday, May 26, 2008

Success with salamanders

This entry documents the final chapter of my experiences with Jefferson Salamanders. For previous entries, begin here.

“How many times do I have to tell you? Stop putting everything you find in your mouth!”

You’d think they’d have the sense to know food from non-food, but my little salamanders seem to explore their world by mouthing it.
Not a problem, as long as you can spit out what you don’t like.
A serious problem, if you can’t.

Last week, I peeked in the tank one morning to find two of the crew had something stuck, as in “hopelessly lodged,” in their mouths. One, in such a way that it prevented him from opening his mouth at all; the other--one preventing him from closing it. A sticky matter, indeed!


The seeds of the Nodding Bur-Marigold float at the surface, their back-curved barbs like fishhooks in tender skin. Apparently mistaken for food, they’d been gulped—and would go neither up nor down.


In a small bowl of water on the kitchen table, I operated on my 2-inch long patients—with a pair of tweezers and the utmost concentration. Barely restraining them until I could get a grip on the bur, then working it gently loose. Minutes later, they were swimming once again in the tank.
And, of course, hungry for breakfast.
A small mark, the only reminder of the nasty, spiny encounter.




This weekend, on a cool rainy evening, I released them back to Wood pool--the few Jefferson Salamander larvae, still with bright, smiling faces. (and several Wood Frog tadpoles)



At 45 days since hatching, they’re soon to metamorphose—lose gills, crawl out onto land, and begin their adult lives, underground. They’ll return to this very same pool for only a few days each spring to breed, reuniting with others of their kind in the icy March waters, before leaving eggs behind.
I wanted to be sure they came to know this pool as their home. And completed the cycle of life in these waters. This is their ancestral pool.



How far they’ll wander from here is unknown.
And how they navigate the distance for their return each spring is also unknown.
But one thing is certain—on a rainy night in late February, under a pitch-black sky--with my flashlight, I’ll be watching.
Waiting to welcome them home.



Research conducted in Indiana in 1970,
calculated the rate of survival for this species in the wild,
from hatching to metamorphosis to be 0.7% (less than one percent).



Thanks to Mrs. Nesbit for hosting ABC Wednesday!

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36 comments:

swamp4me said...

And thus they sally forth...

Lynne said...

For most, this is a story both unseen and unheard. You told it beautifully. I appreciate your participation in their tiny lives and thank you for making me feel a part of it too.

NCmountainwoman said...

Omigosh! You are a surgeon too!

We have truly enjoyed the saga of the salamanders; those in the pond and those on the kitchen table. We've learned a lot and seen some unbelievable photographs.

Kudos to the teacher, caregiver, photographer, and surgeon.

Pat - An Arkansas Stamper said...

An amazing story from beginning to end. Thanks for sharing it with us.

scienceguy288 said...

Quite a story. It is interesting to see the metamorphasis from beginning to end in your photos.

ellen b said...

Well done! What an interesting story and project.

Max-e said...

Hi I am glad I found your site, it is very interesting and you certainly live in a beautiful part of the world.
I have enjoyed your post on the salamanders. The previous owner of our home found our garden very sterile, so she installed a pond an introduced clicking river frogs. They are most delightful and really brighten up the place with their chirping. Some have managed to find their way to our front garden and I am soon going to put in a second pond for them

Petunia said...

Very interesting:)

Pernille's ting og tang said...

Very interesting and a nice S:)

Berit said...

Love your story and your photo!!!

Ida said...

Just like human babies. Going through the oral face..... ;)
Neat shots!

My S

John said...

What a great compilation of photos!
Very interesting too.

imac said...

Great Post, mine have no legs yet.



pop and see my viking with his sword and shield.

Texas Travelers said...

Great S post.
Close call.

Our 'S' has sailed.
Come visit,
Troy and Martha

Judy said...

How interesting.

Sharon said...

What an interesting story! I'm glad you shared it here. I'm also glad you were able to operatd successfully!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Congratulations Nina. Your success rate is marvelous. I hope they are long lived.

This whole experience that you have shared with us is so interesting. I learned so much. Thank you for your efforts and especially for sharing them.

photowannabe said...

This is totally fascinating. Thanks for all the pictures and explainations.

mon@rch said...

Sounds like a success story to me! Congrats on raising these guys and the Salamanders are the cutest! Glad you pulled those seeds out!

Mary said...

YOU, my dear, are fantastic. I'm so thankful to have met you.

Picturing of Life said...

great S post with lots of info...

Mine in here Thanks

Mam and Lizi said...

Great photos - amazing creatures!
Nancy

Lana G! said...

WoW! What a great story!

Jave said...

Interesting!, I wish we hand salamanders in ponds near here.

reader Wil said...

Thank you for this most interesting post!

Patty said...

Very interesting!

Kelly said...

This was fascinating! Thank you for sharing this story, and thank you for fostering these creatures! I grew up pulling them out of the pond behind my home. I haven't seen one in years!

Michelle said...

I have a little tear in my eye. What a beautiful project, and an engaging post. Thank you for sharing...

Michele (Rocky Mtn.Girl) said...

Wonderful and beautiful post... it's always nice to read up on these little guys and to have photos with it is a bonus!! Very well done!

Marvin said...

Hooray! Dr. Nina saves the day.

I've enjoyed your posts on salamanders and vernal pools. Congratulations on your success.

Marvin at Nature in the Ozarks

Andrea said...

Interesting post.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Nydia said...

Oh, for obvious reasons I loved your S post... These little creatures are too cool. Great story!
Kisses from Nydia, from http://www.bringingupsalamanders.blogspot.com

granmal said...

Wow, what an experience and a great story.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Susan Gets Native said...

Wow. I'm getting all teary-eyed here. Live long and prosper, little ones!

And you operated on two of them. Dedication, thy name is Nina.

Neva said...

Congratualtions on a successful surgery! Loved your Salamanders!
My S is here
And here

Kathiesbirds said...

Well, it took me long enough to get here but it was worth the read. Great photos and writing as always! What funny looking creatures with their ruffled gills. Makes me think of men in Olde England with their ruffled shirts!