How You Can Help - Save The Salamanders

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Save The Salamanders - How you can help Salamanders

The following is a list of simple, yet effective things that people can do to help salamanders and contribute to their conservation!

  • If you encounter a salamander in the wild (whether in land or water) admire it by observation only. Salamanders have very absorbent skin and the oils and salts from human hands can seriously harm them. Chemicals on the hands such as insect repellents, sunblock, and lotions can further cause damage. The risk of skin damage that could result in secondary skin infections, as well as bone and muscle injuries from struggling are also a threat. For these reasons salamanders should never be mauled or handled by novices. Unfortunately, some people attempt to 'rescue' the salamanders that they find. In doing so, they are only capturing the animals and removing them from their natural habitat. A small salamander on its own does not need to be rescued. These animals are capable of caring for themselves. Therefore, a tiny salamander is not lost or abandoned by its parents. They do not need to be rescued from the cold either, these animals are amphibians not reptiles, and as such are very cold hardy. Salamanders have even been observed walking over snow or ice in early March. If you find a salamander simply leave it alone, just admire it by observation, and do not capture it. It does not need your help!

  • One exception to this is when moving salamanders off of busy paths or roads where they are likely to be killed. Every year significant numbers of salamanders are killed on roads when they are run over. Salamanders are generally on the move when they are migrating to breeding sites or travelling after rain storms. If you encounter a salamander on the road, stop and move it across in the direction it's headed (this is the only time salamanders should be handled). If possible, wet your hands before touching the salamander. To avoid running over salamanders, if possible do not drive during dawn and dusk hours, on wet spring nights, or during or right after rain storms. Taking alternate routes that do not cut through forests or wetlands can also reduce the risk of hitting salamanders. If you must drive, be sure to travel slowly and keep an eye out for salamanders. Be alert to listen for Spring Peeper Frogs and Wood Frogs. The calls of Spring Peepers and Wood Frogs means that there are amphibian breeding pools in the area. In such regions be extra watchful for salamanders.

  • If you encounter a breeding pool of salamanders be sure to admire this from the shoreline only. Entering the pool can disturb the salamanders, and potentially kill them, or destroy their eggs when they are crushed under foot.

  • Do not use and encourage others not to use rat-poisons, chemical pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and other similar chemicals around your home or cottage. These chemicals often wash off into nearby wetlands and forests. Here they can be absorbed into the salamanders permeable skin and kill them. Chemicals also cause deformities in salamanders. To further reduce being a detriment to salamanders use only environmentally friendly organic products around the home and garden.

  • Do not wear insect repellents or sunscreens. According to the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service, DEET (which is found in most insect repellents) is extremely harmful to amphibians. Salamanders and Frogs have permeable skin that can easily absorb such toxic chemicals. As such campers, hikers, birders, and all others who enjoy the outdoors are encouraged to wear bug jackets, light long sleeved shirts, hats, and sunglasses to protect against insects and sunburn. This will eliminate the need to dose with various chemicals before heading out into environments where amphibians are found. Furthermore make sure to properly dispose of hazardous waste materials as to not contribute to the degradation of salamander populations and habitats. This includes house hold chemicals for cleaning, motor oils, all pharmaceutical medicines, and camping sewage. Whenever possible try to eliminate the usage of such items to further benefit salamanders.

  • During the winter months DO NOT use road salts, but instead use sand. When salts are used they often wash off of the roads during rain and snow melts and end up in nearby wetlands. These salts can have extreme negative effects on salamanders due to the fact that their absorbent skins need to stay moist and hydrated to survive. Furthermore, some salamanders are actually lungless and do all of their breathing through their skins. Salts can dry up salamanders leading to desiccation and death. Roadside wetlands, ponds, and ditches maybe home to both aquatic salamanders and used seasonally by terrestrial species for breeding and birthing sites. Salt on the roads can also pose an issue for salamanders that migrate in the early spring. Here they must cross directly over road salts. The sodium chloride from road salts also causes habitat degradation and death. According to Science Daily, sodium chloride levels reach average concentrations of 70 times higher in roadside ponds compared to woodland ponds located several hundred feet from the road. Steven Brady, author and doctoral student at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, found that salamanders in roadside ponds have higher mortality, grow at a slower rate and are more than likely to develop L-shaped spines and other disfigurements. In roadside ponds, only 56 percent of salamander eggs survive the first 10 weeks of development, whereas 87 percent survive in the woodland ponds. This is why salts should not be used!

  • Certain species of salamanders are sealed alive and sold as keychains. Other species are harvested and killed for food. If you see any salamander products or products that contain parts of salamanders in them, do not buy them! Even if individuals try to justify that they didn't kill the animal, they are supporting the demand and another salamander will have to be killed to replace the purchased item. If people encounter stores that are selling these products they can further help by writing in and letting these businesses know that they will not support any stores that attempt to profit from such cruelty.

  • Do not catch salamanders from the wild to keep them as pets. Not only is this illegal in many places, but taking salamanders from the wild can seriously harm the natural populations. If you really love these animals you will leave them in the wild where they belong!

  • Do not use salamanders as fishing bait. Salamanders can feel pain. Stabbing them with hooks is incredibly painful and abusive.

  • Salamanders are sometimes snagged or trapped on fishing lines when they attempt to swallow baited hooks. Mudpuppy salamanders (family Proteidae) are particularly prone to this. To minimize this threat, people should not fish in areas that are dense with salamanders. Anglers should always keep pliers on hand to help remove hooks from salamanders that are accidentally caught. After the hook is removed the salamanders should be gently returned to the water. This should be done quickly to prevent further injury.

  • Mudpuppy and Hellbender salamanders are often thought to be poisonous or venomous, and believed to kill off fish populations. This is not true. Unfortunately, due to these myths some mudpuppies and hellbenders are intentionally killed. This is why people should help spread the word about the harmless nature of these salamanders, to help stop these intentional kills.

  • Salamanders and other amphibians can fall into places that are difficult to get out of, creating a trap. This happens most commonly with window wells or stair wells. If there are any potential pitfalls around your house, please consider adding a cover or screen to serve as a ladder.

  • When camping do not collect fallen logs, stumps, or wood from forests, wetlands, or other areas for fire. These materials act as important shelters and hiding spots for salamanders. Compressed paper bricks are a better alternative for fireplaces and campfires. These are made from recycled paper material and sawdust that would otherwise go to waste. Organic Briquettes, which are made from recycled corn cobs, groundnuts and rice husks can also be used for fires. Yet another alternative is to use solar cookers while camping.

  • When visiting streams, do not remove rocks, or move them around (e.g moving them to build dams, or to throw them). River and stream rocks act as important areas for salamanders. In areas where rocks have been removed or displaced, salamanders often turn up dead nearby.

  • Similarly, do not remove (or move around or displace) fallen logs, stumps, drift wood, rocks, bark shards, leaf litter or other similar items from forest floors. These materials act as important shelters and hiding spots for salamanders.

  • Do not purchase wild-caught salamanders as pets. The wild-caught pet trade severely depletes wild populations. Over 20 million wild-caught amphibians are sold every year in the U.S. alone.

  • Salamanders are often used for school dissections. These are cruel and abusive. According to the Humane Society of the United States, animals used for dissections are predominantly taken from the wild. This further contributes to the decline in salamanders. Even captive-reared species are unethical, as the animals are raised solely to be killed. Do not dissect salamanders. Students and teachers are encouraged to speak out against this practice.

  • Many municipalities, cities, and villages get there water supply by diverting it from natural sources. This consumption in water can have extreme negative affects on salamanders. Help by reducing water usage. Do not leave taps running while shaving, brushing teeth, etc. Reduce shower times to further conserve water.

  • To help conserve water (which is of extreme importance to salamanders) use rain barrels around your property. The water collected in these can be re-used to water plants and gardens. Rain barrels can collect some 1,300 gallons of water annually. The water saved through rain barrels will not only benefit salamanders, but will also help save money by cutting back on water consumption.

  • When out in natural areas that salamanders frequent, be respectful. Keep an eye out for salamanders on paths when biking or hiking to ensure that none are stepped on. When using All-terrain vehicles stay on designated paths to avoid running over and killing salamanders that are hiding under leaf litter or other forms of natural debris. When visiting woodlands and forests make sure to stay on designated paths. Walking over leaf-litter, rocks, logs, and flat-boards, can crush and kill salamanders that are hiding under these natural forms of shelter. Similarily, when out in natural areas do not let dogs run off leash.

  • Salamanders are extremely sensitive to chemicals. When camping or visiting natural areas that salamanders are found do not use harsh insect repellents or other chemicals. An alternative is to use a mosquito net or poncho.

  • Restrict the usage of motor boats when ever possible and instead paddle. Propellers can seriously injure or kill salamanders. Oil and chemicals left behind from motors can also be extremely detrimental to salamanders.

  • Boaters and fishermen can help salamanders by frequently checking fishing nets and lines to ensure that no salamanders have been accidentally caught or trapped.

  • When dining on Asian cuisine, make sure to only use plastic and/or reusable chopsticks. According to the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK), China produces close to 63 billion pairs of disposable wooden chopsticks a year, equating to approximately 25 million trees felled annually. The deforestation for the production of chopsticks is an international problem that sounds a major alarm for already declining amphibian (salamander) populations. Make sure to never purchase or use disposable chopsticks. Refuse to dine at or support restaurants that use disposable chopsticks.

  • Keep others informed! Let others know about the threats that salamanders are facing and what we can do to help! Share this website on your blog, Facebook, and Twitter! Write in to your local newspapers and elected officials to voice your concerns for salamanders. Let them know about the threats that salamanders face and what we can do to help!


Habitat loss is one of the most significant factors contributing to the decline of salamander populations. This makes the practices of landowners a powerful conservation tool. The following is a list of stewardship activities that will help enrich land and create suitable habitats for salamanders. The habitat management activities that help salamanders will also benefit turtles, frogs, toads, fish, and a myriad of other species.

  • Landowners are encouraged to leave as much of their property as natural and as undisturbed as possible. Let areas grow thick with grass and natural vegetation. Do not strip away or cut down trees, stumps, vegetation and other natural features. Do not drain wetlands or bodies of water. If these features have been previously removed an effort should be made to restore them and return the landscape to its natural setting to reverse any human-induced degradation. The reintroduction of natural and native plants should also take place. Care should be made to restrict vehicular traffic, livestock, and recreation in the natural portions of the property that act as important areas for salamanders. This is especially important in and around wetlands, ponds, other aquatic habitats, and moist woodlands/forests. It is also important to keep the upland areas that are within 300 feet of natural pools, ravines, or wetlands in pristine natural conditions.

  • If you own land with marshes, swamps, or other bodies of water do not rake or remove the natural vegetation that occurs in and around the water. Such features provide cover for both salamanders and their prey items. Certain salamander species also lay their eggs on aquatic vegetation.

  • Do not remove the natural vegetation from around shorelines and forest edges. Leaving buffers of natural vegetation and grasses around wetlands and the surrounding terrestrial regions is extremely important. Leave these areas thick with vegetation by allowing buffers of tall grass, trees, saplings, shrubs, ferns, and other natural plants to grow. These offer cover to salamanders and help protect water quality by reducing erosion and chemical runoff. Leave an unmown buffer at the edges of hay fields, pastures, and lawns. Buffers of 500 meters are preferred.

  • Do not cut down or remove trees, whether live or dead-standing. The removal of trees reduces the amount of shade in woodlands and forest areas. This can be extremely damaging for salamanders as this shade slows the evaporation and disappearance of flooded areas, which are used for breeding and egg-laying.

  • Do not drain any type of seasonal or temporary pools, ponds, or large flooded areas. These sites are important for salamander breeding and egg-laying.

  • Do not make any alterations that will change the flow of water in any wetlands or natural pools on the property, whether these be seasonal or permanent bodies of water.

  • Take measures to prevent soil erosion/siltation. The addition of silt and clay into streams and rivers can severely degrade the salamander's habitat. Silt and clay also fill in important depressions under rocks which are used by the salamanders as cover for themselves, their eggs, and are used as areas to find prey. Use silt fences or sediment traps when doing construction or landscaping to stop sediment from reaching the water. Planting cover crops, native plants or shrubs can also prevent erosion. Dense crop stands physically slow down the velocity of rainfall before it contacts the soil surface, preventing soil splashing and erosive surface runoff.

  • Do not drive or run heavy machinery or vehicles through any wetlands or pools, whether in their wet or dry states.

  • Do not allow livestock to access wetlands or pools. Here they can trample and degrade these habitats with their fecal waste. Provide plastic basins for livestock to drink from.

  • Do not alter the water levels in wetlands or bodies of water (whether seasonal or permanent) in any way. Leave the natural water levels and let natural fluctuations occur. This means allowing natural flooding/draining to happen.

  • Do not release any non-native plants or animals of any kind. Non-native species can have devastating affects on the natural eco-systems. Furthermore if exotics are present (either plant or animal) eliminate their presence.

  • Do not stock fish in ponds/wetlands. Let natural populations occur. Stocking can create a surplus of predators for salamanders. Leave the natural assemblage of animals in the wetland.

  • Make sure all septic tanks and pipelines are not leaking into wetlands or natural pools.

  • Beaver ponds are a important type of wetland. Salamanders will use these as breeding and foraging sites. Do not drain beaver ponds! Do not fill in the natural pools, ponds, or wetlands even when dry. Do not dig into the bottom of the pool, even when it is dry as this will disturb the non-permeable layer of soil that allows the pool to flood.

  • Do not alter riverbanks or sandbars. Do not strip away the natural vegetation from these areas. Similarly, do not subject sandbars or riverbanks to recreation. This includes keeping livestock and recreational vehicles off them. Other activities such as docking boats and camping should be avoided in these areas. Repeated use will degrade these sensitive habitats. Let vegetation grow unrestricted on beaches, river banks, and sand dunes. These help to stop shoreline erosion.

  • Allow a buffer of tall grass and natural vegetation to grow between the road and the property. This will help reduce chemical runoff from roads which can damage and degrade salamander habitats. A buffer of 50 feet is preferred.

  • It is important to leave natural areas in-between wetlands, forests, meadows, ravines, and other green spaces where ever possible. This will provide natural corridors in which the salamanders can travel in between habitats. If various habitats do exist, but have already been fragmented or cut off from each other, efforts should be made to increase natural (and native) forms of vegetation and cover to form corridors. Do not fragment areas of woods or meadows into smaller cut-off sections by clear-cutting, or stripping away thick areas of vegetation. Leave areas like grasslands and meadows lush.

  • Reduce food waste and control its storage. Garbage, composts, pet food, and bird seed may attract raccoons, skunks, and other predators that may prey on salamanders. Store garbage, composts, recycling, and other food sources indoors or in containers that cannot be opened by animals. Avoid feeding pets outside. Place bird feeders so they are inaccessible to raccoons and skunks and keep areas underneath bird feeders clean. Never feed raccoons or skunks. These are devastating salamander predators. You can further help to minimize the populations of these predators by reducing their food supply. Inform the city about dumpsters that are not kept closed.

  • Keep dogs on a leash or under your control and keep cats inside. Pets that wander can be devastating predators to salamanders.

  • If man-made pools are present on the property be sure to use both Critter Skimmers and Froglogs. These are items that will help the trapped salamanders escape from pools. The Chlorine found in pools can kill salamanders, this is why providing them with an escape is important.

  • When building houses, sheds, and other structures, design them to be smaller. Build up instead of out. This will reduce the amount of habitat that is affected by such unnatural features.
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