Jefferson salamander movin’ on up for early Burlington road crossing


Published February 27, 2024 at 9:20 am

A warmer winter has changed the mating habits of Burlington’s favourite endangered species.

This means the Jefferson salamander will be crossing the road a little earlier this year.

And, to accommodate, King Road from North Service Road to Mountain Brown Road will be closed to traffic for about a month starting on March 5.

The salamander needs to make the trek across the usually busy road to get to nearby run-off ponds where they like to breed.

Since 2012, Burlington has closed the same section of road for the salamanders to cross which has proven to be a lifesaver for the creatures. They are a nationally and provincially protected endangered species because of habitat loss.

Jefferson salamanders spend most of their lives underground. As the weather warms up and the spring rains begin, the salamanders emerge and migrate to breed in temporary ponds formed by run-off, laying their eggs in clumps attached to underwater vegetation. Adults leave the ponds after breeding. By late summer, the larvae lose their gills, become air-breathing juveniles and leave the pond to head into the surrounding forests.

Adult salamanders migrate to their breeding ponds during wet rainy nights. They show a strong affinity for the pond in which they hatched and can be very determined to reach it, sometimes causing them to cross busy roads.

The Jefferson salamander is grey or brown-coloured back, with lighter underparts. Blue flecks may be present on the sides and limbs. They can grow up to 20 cm long and the tail makes up half their length. The salamander can live as long as 30 years.





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