Light of Morn
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Seeing Spots:   The California Tiger Salamander
These secretive amphibians are seldom seen because their activity takes place primarily during cool, rainy nights.

On rare occasions, they are seen making their nocturnal journey from grassland burrows to breeding ponds. They hide during the day beneath protecting surface objects.

Upon reaching the ponds, mating takes place and females later attach eggs to submerged vegetation.
The adults often leave the pond shortly after egg-laying has finished. The eggs hatch in a few weeks into gilled larvae that feed primarily on aquatic insects.

Sometimes the larval are abundant in these grassland breeding ponds and, if food is abundant, grow rapidly, leaving the ponds as small adults before summer arrives. They spend the summer in grassland burrows, often dug by ground squirrels.
The future of this species in California is uncertain due to pesticides draining into breeding ponds, introduced Bullfrogs eating larvae, or the absence of grassland burrows due to the spread of orchards and vineyards.

Identification: Cream to white spots or bars on a background of black. The broad, rounded snout with small, protruding eyes characterize larvae as well as adults. Total length: 8.5 inches.

Source: "Sierra Reptiles & Amphibians" by Harold E. Basey
A "Slip of Salamanders"
The size, girth, and number of spots on the center salamander could indicate that this as a breeding Slip.
With so many spots before my eyes, I failed to notice the Tree Frog seen at right.
Shafts of light fall across the shallow trench these salamanders call home.
California Tiger Salamanders are classified as rare and endangered.
As you go about your woodland walks, your grassland strolls, tread softly.
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