Catching Them Darn Things

Fire Salamander

After researching how to catch them and hunting them for weeks… Does anyone really have the answer?

In my environmental science class, my research group was on the task of observing amphibians. I was on the specific task of observing salamanders. For 4 weeks straight, my partners and I searched through Washtenaw Community College’s woods and ponds for salamanders, or amphibians in general.

For our first search, we only observed the grounds. Sadly, we didn’t find one trace of any amphibians. The next day, my partners and I decided to do some web browsing on amphibians (salamanders, frogs, and newts), and their habitats.  According to the scientists of Reptile Gardens, they live in or near water, or find shelter on moist ground and are typically found in brooks, creeks, ponds and other moist locations such as under rocks. Thus, meaning that I had to re-create this setting.

Now that I finally came up with a way to catch salamanders, I went to my instructor to see if he had any supplies for us to use. Our instructor gave us a large warped sheet of plywood, which would create the perfect shady place where a salamander would love to be… so I thought.

Our wooden trap

Our wooden trap

On Thursday June 13, 2013, we placed the “trap” at the pond near the back entrance of WCC, in a reclusive spot very close to the water. In order for it to be a successful trap, we decided to give it some privacy. When returned on that next Monday, there were no salamanders. The only trace of wild-life was the pill bugs (aka “Rollie Pollies”) that all over the bottom.

Since the first experiment was a dud, we moved the board and dug a little burrow between the water and land, and placed it over that. When we showed up the next day, there still were only pill bugs and spiders.

We then came to the conclusion that since there was construction going on at the pond nearby, the animals weren’t going to come out in order to stay deeply hidden. Devastated, we return to our classroom, and hoped for better luck next time.



3 thoughts on “Catching Them Darn Things

  1. I’m glad you toughed it out and kept searching despite your troubles finding animals. Sometimes the quest is the fun and rewarding part.

  2. Nice post and a good use of resources! I recommend a board that is not plywood, since plywood has glue in it that can be harmful to the salamanders. If you leave the board out over the course of a year you might do better as salamanders do a lot of their moving about in the early spring after the first warm rains. In the 15 years I’ve been at WCC, we have found 1 red backed salamander!

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