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With the sudden change from winter to nearly summer temperatures, the salamanders have begun their vernal migration.

Amphibians are now on the move to the places they were born in their bid to continue the circle of life. With the past two weeks of above-average temperatures, they have stealthily moved to their vernal pools during the late-night rains. Spring peepers and wood frogs are now also in the pools and are a telltale signs of the salamanders’ location.

But with the lack of snow this year, sparse rain and high temperatures, the salamanders may be in big trouble. Their pools may dry up earlier. Therefore, the juveniles have a compressed time to develop and leave before the water evaporates. There is a chance their populations could plummet if conditions don’t improve.

While frogs and turtles are often more endearing to children through their own personal contact and appearances in story books, yellow-spotted salamanders are little known and understood.

When I mention I help to organize the salamander crossing effort in Pepperell, people either have a glazed look on their face or, rudely, outright laugh. They just don’t know or understand about them. I feel they are an incredibly interesting and beautiful species that are well worth saving.

Here are a few interesting facts about salamanders:

* They can cross in weather as cool as 35-40 degrees and can even go over snow banks, traveling as far as a mile.

* Usually salamanders cross one hour or so after sunset during periods of steady rain.

* Migration can span a few months depending on frequency and quality of rain.

* Cross them in the direction they are heading. Gently lift them and put them well over from the road.

* Salamanders can live to be up to 20 years old. That means one salamander can have a huge impact on the numbers of animals that are produced.

* They have a high mortality rate in the pools as well as the roads. They don’t have it easy.

* Report any blue spotted salamanders to Paula Terrasi, Pepperell Conservation administrator.

Remember, they are mostly going to the vernal pools. Males deposit their spermataphore packets in the pools, females take the packets internally into gill slits to fertilize, then deposit fertilized eggs into the pools. Then all must cross out of the pools back to their upland homes under logs and leaf litter. This species is known as the mole salamanders.

During rainy nights, we are asking residents to slow down and avoid running over salamanders in three town locations where signs are posted: 38-40 Lawrence St., 29-31 Maple St. and three Elm St. locations — the stretch by the Scotch Pine Farm, at the intersection of Elm and Shirley streets, and near the pond just before the hill into town.

Residents nearby these locations are encouraged to help out. This is a wonderful way for children and families to get out and see a seasonal miracle. Contact Terrasi at 978-433-0325 or at pterrasi@town.pepperell.ma.us to learn how you can help.

For more information go to:

Paula Terrasi, Pepperell conservation administrator, at 978-433-0325 or pterrasi@town.pepperell.ma.us; www.vernalpool.org; frog-whots.com/Salamander_Night.html; or WickedBigPuddles.org.

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