When I was a young child I grew up in an urbanized area just outside of Toronto in Southern, Ontario. Needless to say it was not a haven for wildlife. Luckily for me though, I did escape the confides of this concrete kingdom during my summer vacations. I would spend much time out camping with my grandparents.
The campground was full of herptiles and there were many wonderful species to observe. One day during my exploring I came across a pile of old shingles that had been tossed near the forest’s edge. I began to flip these in hopes of finding some interesting creatures. After a few minutes I came across a brilliantly colored Red Eft. This is the terrestrial stage of the salamander species known as the Eastern Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens). Its vibrant orange background color and red spots stood out amazingly against the black backdrop of the tiles. This would be the start of a very profound interest and amity for salamanders. Twenty years later, this memory of my first wild salamander is still very vivid. Many other memories of salamander encounters from early childhood also remain fresh in my mind, a testament to the impact and importance they have had in my life.
This passion for salamanders led me to where I am today, a conservationist for these amazing amphibians. In my previous blog I wrote about how I use outreach education events to help promote the preservation, and recovery methods to help contribute to the betterment of salamanders.
A big part of my presentations and displays are the live salamanders that I use as education animals. It has been said that In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught. The live salamanders help me teach people to care about these animals, and this inspires their drive to take part in conservation.
Obviously, these salamanders need to be cared for, thus there is not a day that goes by that I am not doing something salamander related. Whether it’s presenting educational lectures on salamander conservation, writing articles, giving interviews, or collecting observations of salamanders in the wild. When I am not doing such activities I am often planning and prepping for such efforts; And of course a good portion of every day also goes towards the care of the many salamanders that I live with. Many of these were adopted from individuals who previously obtained them as pets, but no longered wanted them. Others were obtained through the Ministry of Natural Resources purely to be used for conservation education.
I must continuously strive to make sure the animals are always provided with proper care and husbandry. This includes proper diets, habitats, temperatures, and humidity levels for each given species. This is a huge responsibility, as the care and well-being of my animal ambassadors is of paramount importance.
Not only do these salamanders help educate the public during presentations and lectures, but my care of them continues to fuel my own desires to help these amphibians as a whole.
By: The Founder of Save The Salamanders