It’s that time of year again. The wind starts to get a certain chill, pumpkin lattes are being sold at every coffee shop, and the leaves are beginning to change color. This is also the time of year that an Ozark native salamander, the ringed salamander (Ambystoma annulatum) migrates to breed. Like the spotted salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum) and jefferson salamanders (Ambystoma jeffersonianum) mentioned in an earlier post, ringed salamanders are members of the family Ambystomatidae (the lunged salamanders) and they breed in ephemeral ponds. However, ringed salamanders breed in the fall, so their migrations take place mostly on rainy nights during the month of October. Like other Ambystomatid salamanders, they spend most of their time hidden and are difficult to see when they are not migrating.
Photos do not do ringed salamanders justice, as they are rather large and impressive salamanders, longer in body than spotted salamanders but still not nearly as large as their relatives, the tiger salamanders. The yellow rings on their body give them an almost exotic look and on top of that, they have adorable little faces with pop-out eyes. Yet, like many other amphibians, they are highly vulnerable to road mortalities during their migration. One gravid female hit by a passing vehicle represents the loss of an entire clutch of eggs as well as her future reproductive potential. So please, if you live in ringed salamander territory, watch the roads carefully for salamanders this month and help across any that you find!