Who is hiding in the leaf litter? Hint: This is the special time of year when you can see them above ground.
A spotted salamander! These secretive salamanders spend most of their time in subterranean small mammal tunnels or under rocks or logs. On warm, wet nights in early spring, these members of the mole salamander family migrate to their ancestral breeding pools. On these nights, adults gather and perform a “liebesspiel” courtship dance. Males produce spermatophores, or small packets of sperm. Females pick up these spermatophores and eggs are internally fertilized.
Even if you miss spotted salamanders on their migration or in their courting congress, you can tell they have visited pools by the spermatophores and eggs they leave behind.
Male spotted salamanders deposit up to 80 of these mucus blobs topped with sperm capsules.
Spotted salamander egg masses are usually attached to sticks and vegetation underwater. They are made up of 50-250 eggs and have a firm jello texture. Like all salamander egg masses, there is a gel envelope surrounding the entire egg mass for protection against predators, like newts.