Elkhorn Tigers

California Tiger Salamander

California Tiger Salamander

It started with a photograph on facebook posted by wildlife rescue expert Rebecca Dmytryk. Her husband Duane had found a California Tiger Salamander in their driveway. We were pretty sure this species was found in our watershed but not certain. A couple of days later, Reserve worker Mike Curthoys told me he saw them on Strawberry Road. Two nights later a big rainstorm hit the area. I get a call from Mike that Tiger Salamanders are “all over the road.”

I head over there and it is a spectacle. In distinct areas, animals are crawling across the road, along the shoulder, and unfortunately, getting squished by traffic. We work to get them off the road for an hour or so. That night 49 salamanders were found.

Some of the many California Tiger Salamanders found on Strawberry Road.

Some of the many California Tiger Salamanders found on Strawberry Road.

Amazing to think that they spend most of their lives underground in rodent burrows. When the first strong rains arrive, they emerge from their subterranean lairs and congregate in breeding ponds to reproduce.

Larval California Tiger Salamander in the hills above Salinas.

Larval California Tiger Salamander in the hills above Salinas.

Take a look at the diversity of dorsal patterns on these animals.

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The world is full of surprises and 2014 is the year we rediscovered California Tiger Salamanders on the Reserve. Can’t ask for a better holiday present than that.

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