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Sullivan County Conservation District

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​Find past newsletter articles, press releases, and other media showcasing local agriculture, placed-based education, and conservation of natural resources in Sullivan County.

Winter Survival: Salamanders

November 28, 2017

Where do salamanders go during winter?

Some aquatic salamanders (spring and northern two-lined) stay active in streams that do not freeze in the winter.  Others burrow down in the mud or live in tunnels below the freeze line.  When the air temperatures warm, they come up and look for food, otherwise they stay still to conserve energy. 

 

Some terrestrial salamanders utilize abandoned burrows and tunnels in the earth to get below the freeze line and hibernate during the winter. Their metabolisms slow down and they don't move during this time. They use the energy they have stored in their tails for survival.

 

Others such as the spotted, marble, and Jefferson salamanders actually spend most of their life underground, only coming up to the surface in early spring to mate and lay eggs. Their burrows may be 3 feet underground.

 

Still others (northern redback, northern dusky, and eastern newts) find deep cracks in rocks or logs or dig as far down as they can in the leaf litter. These ones are not protected from freezing, so their bodies create a type of sugary antifreeze that helps keep their cells from freezing.  Their heart actually stops beating, but they don't die.  In the spring, they thaw out and use the extra sugar to fuel their annual journey to vernal pools and ponds for breeding.  

 

 

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