Bob Palmatier

Marbled Salamanders emerge from their burrows underground in the Fall and travel toward the vernal pool where they were born. Males along the route mate with the females, fertilizing the eggs they carry inside. Females find a small depression inside the perimeter of where the vernal pool will be, where they lay close to 100 unattached eggs that resemble small pearls. The female stays with her eggs, "brooding" them until the rains come and fill the pond. The embryos within have become larvae, which free themselves from their eggs and swim free!

Triangle Area: October-November

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Marbled Salamander Brooding Eggs

Marbled Salamander Metamorph

Vernal Pool: Wake County

Vernal Pool: Chatham County

Spotted Salamanders emerge from their burrows during the first warm rains at the end of the winter, and travel to the vernal pool where they were born. Males generally arrive at the pools first, depositing spermatophores on the pool's bottom. These will be picked up by the females using their vent, at which point the eggs they carry are fertilized. The females will extrude a gelatinous egg mass carrying 60-100 small black embryos. In succeeding days the embryos grow, becoming tailed, gilled lar-vae that swim freely in the vernal pool until they emerge from the pool as "metamorphs" (tiny salamanders) before the pool dries up.

Triangle Area: February-March

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Spotted Salamander Egg Mass

Spotted Salamander Metamorph

Vernal Pool: Orange County

Vernal Pool: Chatham County

The Eastern Tiger Salamander is another member of the genus Ambystoma. In Fall and early Winter, or late Winter and early Spring, warm rains bring the Tiger Salamanders from their burrows in the ground on a migration most often to the vernal pool of their birth. In the Sandhills and Coastal Plain of NC, Carolina Bays form small to enormous oval ephemeral ponds where Tiger Salamanders and other unique native plants and animals find their home. The mating behaviors of Tiger Salamanders are very similar to those of Spotted Salamanders, involving the laying of spermatophores by males, and females picking them up in their vents in vernal pools during warm Fall or Winter rains. The egg masses resemble those of the Spotted Salamander, but are normally smaller with fewer eggs, more oval, and with jelly less thick and firm. From these emerge Tiger Salamander larvae which may spend up to 3-7 months in larval form before becoming metamorphs, that is, tiny salamanders. Eastern Tiger Salamanders are state listed as a Threatened Species in North Carolina.

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Carolina Bay with Pond Cypress, Hoke County

Tiger Salamander Egg Mass with Larvae

Juvenile Tiger Salamander in Vernal Pool

Adult Tiger Salamander

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