Herpetofauna: One Life's List

Ambystoma tigrinum
Tiger Salamander

St. Louis Co., Missouri
Spring 1977

I went down into a neighbor's basement and came up with an addition for my Life List.  Several Tiger Salamanders were crawling around down in the sump well. It's not uncommon for Tigers and other kinds to hibernate under houses and end up in the cellar, and they often end up in window wells and in regular wells too. I kept one of those Tigers as a pet for nearly twelve years, keeping it in a fishbowl and feeding it crickets and earthworms.

The ambystomids (lunged) salamanders are invisible most of the year.  Near the end of winter in the eastern U.S. there is usually a warmer week where the cold rains fall, and these creatures come out of the ground and head for the mating ponds, fishless vernal pools that disappear into the ground in the summer, along with the salamanders.  For a few weeks, though, they are active, and sometimes dozens can be seen crawling across suburban yards on a cold rainy night.

The Tiger in the lower photo was found wandering on the Snake Road one May night after day-long rains had forced it above ground.







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