Wilton amphibian migration could begin tonight

Motorists should take care this evening, lest they have an unfortunate slimy encounter. Today’s warm, rainy weather could set the stage for one of nature’s more interesting phenomena: the spring amphibian migration.

Henryk Teraszkiewicz, executive director of Woodcock Nature Center, told the Bulletin on Tuesday, “I think that with today’s warm weather, we could actually get a run tomorrow night.” He went on to add, “the fact there is still so much snow and ice, however, leaves it very iffy.”

He cautions people driving tonight, or any rainy night over the next several weeks, on roads that pass between woodland on one side and wetland on the other to slow down and keep their eyes open.

“The biggest mortality issue with these species are roadkill dynamics,” he said. There are even, he said, “communities that are setting up amphibian crossing guard programs.”

Just in time for their emergence, 2014 has been proclaimed the Year of the Salamander by Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC) to raise awareness for salamander conservation. The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Wildlife Division is participating in this effort by shining a spotlight on Connecticut’s 12 native salamander species throughout the year.

Woodcock Nature Center (woodcocknaturecenter.org) is joining in the celebration as well with several upcoming events.

Connecticut’s 12 native species are: Blue-spotted Salamander (endangered), Northern Redback Salamander, Common Mudpuppy, Northern Slimy Salamander (threatened), Four-toed Salamander, Northern Spring Salamander (threatened), Jefferson Salamander (special concern), Northern Two-lined Salamander, Marbled Salamander, Red-spotted Newt, Northern Dusky Salamander, and Spotted Salamander.

Salamanders are not the same as lizards, although they may look similar since they are small animals with four legs, a tail, and a similar body shape. However, up close, salamanders and lizards are very different. First of all, these two animals live in different habitats. Salamanders prefer cool, moist places, while lizards prefer dry, warmer places. A lizard’s body is covered with tough scales, while a salamander’s body is smooth and slippery. Most salamanders do not have claws on their feet, while lizards do. Although lizards and salamanders look alike, they are not closely related. Lizards are reptiles and are more closely related to snakes and turtles. Salamanders are amphibians, the same as frogs and toads.

Among the events at the nature center will be a program on April 5 called The Great Amphibian Migration with a hike and live animal presentation, including salamanders. During the center’s Spring Celebration on April 12, there will be a number of events including salamander crafts and live salamander presentations. More information will be available in a future issue of The Bulletin.

The DEEP Wildlife Division and other conservation organizations will be holding salamander events throughout the year, including a Salamander Art Contest for Kids. Information:ct.gov/deep/salamanders or facebook.com/CTFishandWildlife.

Those interested in more information on amphibian migration may check this link to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which is relevant to this area: http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/51925.html.

The UConn Amphibian Tracker 2014 can be found here: http://hydrodictyon.eeb.uconn.edu/people/urban/tracker.html.