While visiting Amherst, Massachusetts, recently, I had the opportunity to go out herping (looking for reptiles and amphibians), with a few local ecologists. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I was unfortunately not in Amherst at the right time of year to see the Spotted Salamander, Ambystoma maculatum, migration. I also just missed the Marbled Salamander, Ambystoma opacum. Two very large and impressive salamander species. However, all was not lost, as I still got to see some amazing amphibians.
My favourite was the Red spotted newt, Notophthalmus viridescens, in the terrestrial red eft (juvenile) stage. While aquatic larvae, they have olive coloured skin, and while aquatic adults, they are an olive to brown-green. In between their larval and adult phases, however, the juvenile red or orange efts spend 1-3 years on land. Their bright colour warns of their toxicity, and as such, they are commonly seen out in the open in the woodlands they inhabit. When we ventured up into the nearby mountains, these little guys were everywhere! An almost fluoro orange and breathtakingly beautiful.
Another highlight was holding a large American Bullfrog, Lithobates catesbieanus. I thought my PhD study species, the Growling Grass Frog, Litoria raniformis, was big, but they are dwarfed by the American Bullfrog.
The state of Massachusetts has 10 salamander species and 10 frog/toad species. I was fortunate to find quite a few of these in Amherst, and have included photos of some of the amphibians we saw and habitats we explored.