The Wandering Salamander of the Pacific Northwest
The Wandering Salamander was originally only found in California, but now can be found on Vancouver Island. They are not found in between these two locations. Vancouver Island gardeners who would purchase red bark that was packaged in California would unknowingly release these salamanders on Vancouver Island. The name sure fits these little ones.
The Wandering Salamander feeds on a variety of small insects, including ants, mites, spiders, beetles, centipedes and gastropods. As with most salamanders, the wandering salamander is a generalist feeder.
Young emerge from nests as fully formed juveniles. They will take 3 to 4 years to reach sexual maturity. Females reproduce every 2 or 3 years, eggs are deposited under rotting logs and stumps. Egg clutches have even been found under the bark of rotting trees.
Wandering salamanders typically live in old growth forests. They are agile climbers and can be found high up in trees. They will travel up into the trees at night, as high as 40 meters to feed on insects and gastropods, then return to the ground to find cover during the day.
Not very much is known about the population numbers of the Wandering Salamander on Vancouver Island. Its distribution is quite random in here. The numbers do seem pretty consistent across their range, although declines have been noted on northern Vancouver Island, most likely due to logging.
Wandering Salamanders are most threatened by logging, which continues to alter and fragment habitats across Vancouver Island. Severe and prolonged droughts have become another major threat. These droughts are predicted to become more common over the coming years with climate change. In addition, residential and other human developments continue to threaten local populations.
These are beautiful salamanders to observe but please try to refrain from handling them.