Stack of spotted salamanders spied in Charlottetown park

·2 min read
Nathan Coker and his son found this pile of salamanders in Victoria Park a few weeks ago. (Nathan Coker - image credit)
Nathan Coker and his son found this pile of salamanders in Victoria Park a few weeks ago. (Nathan Coker - image credit)

A pond in Charlottetown's Victoria Park is known as the place to go for salamander searches, but one Island man and his son were surprised to come across a whole pile of the amphibians.

Nathan Coker was searching Dead Man's Pond for salamanders a few weeks ago with his 10-year-old son, Jack.

"We're just looking under some logs, we found a couple of them," he said. "Right near Dead Man's Pond, it was like right beside it, it was this big log."

Coker and his son moved the log, and underneath was a pile of "at least 30," yellow spotted salamanders.

"They were all just kind of congregating together. They didn't like move away or anything. They were just stuck together almost," he said. "I've never seen that many."

Coker assumed the salamanders were mating.

 It isn't abnormal to see a lot of salamanders this time of year says Garry Gregory, wildlife biologist with P.E.I's fish and wildlife department.
It isn't abnormal to see a lot of salamanders this time of year says Garry Gregory, wildlife biologist with P.E.I's fish and wildlife department.(Garry Gregory)

But Garry Gregory, a wildlife biologist with P.E.I's fish and wildlife department, said that's not quite the case.

"Typically the kind of courtship behaviour takes place under water," he said.

It's more likely the group Coker saw was a bunch of males grappling together to "gain an upper hand for access to breeding females," said Gregory.

Gregory said it isn't abnormal to see a lot of salamanders this time of year.

If you get a nice mild night with a gentle rain in the spring that can trigger the salamanders to start moving toward their local breeding sites," he said.

The most common species seen is the spotted salamander, which moves toward seasonal wetland pools, often in large numbers, Gregory said.

He said salamanders can live up to 20 years and typically return to their birthplace annually to mate.

It's hard to know how many salamanders are on P.E.I. — but Gregory said populations are considered secure.

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