Rare Green Salamanders Found at Falling Creek Camp
by Annie Ramsbotham on
October 27, 2020
If you’ve ever gone on a nature walk around camp, then you know there’s a plethora of plant life and an array of animals that call this mountain home. Did you know that among those is the Green Salamander?
Green Salamanders (Aneides aenues) are a threatened species of salamander in the family Plethodontidae. They grow to be about 3-5 inches in length, with mottled green spots on their back that blend in with the mosses and lichen found on rocks.
These salamanders are native to the Appalachian region, and thrive in cool, humid, rock crevices. Rocky environments that fit the criteria they need are becoming increasingly rare, so conservationists have been tracking these salamanders to learn more about them and keep them protected. The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission is one group that has been surveying Green Salamanders in this area.
Here at Falling Creek, we are lucky to have some Green Salamanders living under the overhang at Sheep’s Rock and Ray’s Rock. There is even a little salamander that has made a rock crevice by the Dining Hall his long-term home! We are fortunate to have the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission come out to Falling Creek periodically to check in on our salamander population.
Just this past Monday, Ben Dalton, a wildlife diversity technician, came to survey the Green Salamanders living at camp (pictured on the bottom right). These incredible creatures can live 20 years. Since the last survey was about 5 years ago, it is likely that the salamanders Ben was able to check in on were some of the same ones that were spotted last time!
After a successful morning surveying salamanders (Ben saw 5, and got the great photos you see in this post!), he was kind enough to share some of his knowledge about these creatures. The most interesting fact I learned was that Green Salamanders have no lungs, and breathe entirely through their skin! The “nasolabial grooves” on their faces can pick up smells, but are not nostrils that they breathe out of like our own noses.
Ben chose to survey the salamanders in the Fall, when they are most active. Green Salamanders forage during the day when it is not too hot, and as Ben said, “they can eat nearly anything they can fit in their mouths.” Green Salamanders eat anything from spiders and snails to crickets and beetles, and all kinds of creepy-crawlies in between.
If you’re on a hike at camp on a cool, misty day this summer, you might be lucky enough to spot one of these cool creatures yourself!
(Green Salamanders weren’t the only cave dweller Ben spotted on Monday - check out his photo of the bat he saw, pictured in the center below!)