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Reptiles and Amphibians Collection Reptiles and Amphibians Collection Snakes Turtles Frogs Salamanders

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The secretive salamander is a harmless creature. It has no poison sting or biting teeth. Its permanent smile and delicate little toes will win your heart, once you take that first curious look.

When people meet up with their first salamander they often call it a lizard, because salamanders have tails but salamanders are amphibians, like frogs and toads. Their skin is smooth and moist. They cannot bit. Lizards have dry, scaly skin like their relatives, the turtles and snakes. There are no lizards in the Maritime Provinces.

Salamanders are common. Nova Scotia has five species, while 336 species are known in the world. But because of their secretive way of life, most of us notice salamanders only in spring, when they wake up from winter hibernation and migrate to breeding ponds.

Salamanders eat a variety of insects, worms, snails, spiders and slugs. They use sight and smell to find prey. Our salamanders make no sounds and cannot hear, although they do feel vibrations in the ground with their forelegs and lower jaw. Salamanders can regrow their legs or tail if these are severed.

In spring, the Yellow-spotted and Blue-spotted Salamanders gather in woodland ponds or roadside ditches to breed. Males court females with an underwater display. the male then places a small white package of sperm (called a spermatophore) near a female. If she is receptive, she takes the spermatophore and holds it in her abdomen until egg-laying time. Newts also breed in ponds, but Red-backed Salamanders and Four-toed Salamanders lay their eggs on land. Salamander larvae are slimmer than frog tadpoles, with flattened heads and feathery external gills.

Salamander Species

Yellow-spotted Salamander

Blue-spotted Salamander

Eastern Red-backed Salamander

Four-toed Salamander

Red-spotted Newt

Salamander Information

Finding Salamanders