Handling spotted salamander

Avoid Handling

Salamanders have very absorbent skin. The salts and oils on human hands can harm the salamanders so please enjoy the salamanders by observation only. If you do need to handle the salamander, handle gently and briefly.

salamander critter keeper

Keep Them Wild!

Please do not remove salamanders from the wild and keep them as pets. Removing salamanders from the wild will cause the local populations to decline, and with half of the worlds salamanders at risk of extinction this is not acceptable.

Salamander Xing (Salamander crossing)

Help Them Cross

If you see a salamander crossing a road or path, if it is safe to do so help them cross in the direction they were headed. Many salamanders are killed each year on roads and paths, which contributes to local population declines and extirpations (local extinctions). This is the only time they should be handled.

do not use bugspray

Stay Chemical Free

When entering forested areas do not wear DEET bug sprays or sunscreens as they are very harmful to amphibians. Instead wear bug jackets, light long sleeve shirts, hats and sunglasses to protect against insect bites and sunburns.

Salamander trapped in keychain

Do Not Support Tourist Trade

Certain species of salamander are sealed alive and sold as keychains in certain regions, other species are unethically harvested and used for food. If you see any of these products do not buy them, as you will be supporting this horrible trade.

Salamander as fishing bait

Fishing Bait

Do not use salamanders as fishing bait. Salamanders can feel pain, and it is excruciatingly painful to have a hook stabbed through them. Instead use artificial lures.

reusable chopsticks saving salamanders

Use Reusable Chopsticks

When dining on Asian cuisine, make sure you only use plastic 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.

Salamander habitat

Leave Natural Areas Natural!

Logs and leaf-litter are important habitats where salamanders reside. Please try to leave natural areas as natural as possible by leaving these be. When visiting streams, do not remove rocks as many stream salamanders use these for shelter and you would be removing their home. Do not drain ponds, wetlands, or alter any natural areas if possible.

Road Salting

Do Not Use Road Salts

When salts are used they often wash off of roads/driveways during rain or snowmelt and end up in local wetlands. These salts have extremely 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 a 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!

Nature conservancy sign

Help Protect Natural Areas

Habitat loss is one of the biggest issues that salamanders face. Protect your town’s natural habitats. Learn where the natural habitats are in your community and then try to work with the town conservation commission, conservation authority, or department of parks and recreation to promote the conservation and understanding of the parks, ponds, and wetlands in your town. You can help preserve salamander habitat by donating money to the Center for Ecosystem Survival (CES). This is a group that raises money to buy areas of habitat from all over the world. This land is set aside for wildlife. The CES has purchased over 11 million acres of habitat! Another option is to visit the Nature Conservancy. The Nature Conservancy’s mission is to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. Save Nature and Nature Conservancy.