Spotted Salamanders can be found on cool, rainy winter nights as they migrate to and from vernal pools where they breed (they choose temporary pools because there are no fish to eat their eggs or larvae). These salamanders, which live up to ten years, are faithful to breeding spots, returning year after year to the same pools.
Males deposit many whitish sperm packets on the bottom of the pool. Females then pick up the spermatophores and their eggs are fertilized internally. Within 2 to 3 days after mating, females begin depositing eggs on fallen twigs and aquatic vegetation. Egg masses absorb water after being deposited and swell from the original golf ball size up to the size of a softball. Depending on temperature, the ½-inch larvae hatch in about 6 to 8 weeks.
Spotted Salamander fact sheet - from Minnesota Herpetology.
The Vernal Pool Association - What exactly is a vernal pool? What lives there? Why should you care? Visit this site to find out, and check out Vern's Story, probably the world's only cartoon featuring a mole salamander as its main character!
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photo: Mike Dunn