New Hampshire Wildlife News
by Certified Wildlife Biologist, Eric P. Orff

New Hampshire Nature Notes
by Eric Orff

It's Raining frogs and toads and salamanders.

Friday 04/03/2009

It's raining frogs and toads and shimmering spotted salamanders.

It is time to NOT to drive on rainy nights! The next rainy night will likely be the big night for salamanders locally. It has stopped raining this Friday afternoon so it might not be tonight. But the next time it is raining after dark will be a big one for the yellow spotted salamanders. As many as 80 percent of the population will move that one night to the vernal pools to breed.

Frogs too. Last night, Thursday, I heard my first peepers in Epsom. I moved a wood frog from Autumn Drive in Concord on Wednesday night while taking my grand daughters home. We brought the frog inside for safety for the night much to the delight of the girls, Katie 5 and Erin 2. The very first thing the next morning they wanted to check the frog and get her out beyond their back yard in the vernal pool that will now host quacking wood frogs and soon after spring peepers.

Folks can do these smallest creatures a huge benefit by simply not driving after dark if it is raining. Get that gallon of milk on the way home from work if it is raining or is predicted. Humans unwittingly will kill thousands of these beautiful delicate animals over the next several weeks on rainy nights. While the beautiful yellow spotted salamanders are quick to move as soon as the snow is nearly gone they will be in the vernal pools a week or two laying eggs before heading back across our roads on another rainy night and back into the forest floor, not to be seen again until this time next year. They really are the ghosts of our forests. Frogs will be moving in numbers these rainy nights for the next three months. Different species move at different times. First are the wood frogs and right behind them are the spring peepers. Then a couple weeks later the American toads are on the move by mid April into May. Green frogs frogs will follow. Then the lumbering bull frogs as it warms and by late May into June it is the tree frogs that will be moving and serenading us into the early summer nights with their jungle-like calls.

If you must go out on a rainy night slow down. Way down on the secondary roads. Look low in the road in front of your car and straddle any objects. Spotted salamanders are quit shinny even though they are for the most part jet black. They may look like small wet sticks in the road. They crawl very slowly and can be easily avoided. Most frogs are not in any rush either and can be straddled as well. I'm talking driving about 20 miles per hour, not 35. I have learned how to spot the frogs at a distance and zig-zag around them very well. But you must be thinking frogs and salamanders and be concentrating on the road immediately in front of your car. Every driver can make a difference by avoiding driving after dark when it is raining or at least slowing down and driving to avoid the frogs and salamanders. You can make a difference this spring.

Eric Orff, wildlife biologist

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