Redback salamanders often have red stripes on their backs. By Brian Gratwicke
Most amphibians start life under water, where they hatch from eggs and breathe through gills. Eventually they grow lungs and leave the water to live on land. Redback salamanders are unusual amphibians because they hatch from eggs on land and spend all of their lives breathing air and living on the ground in the forest.
Even though they breathe air, redback salamanders do not have lungs! A redback salamander “breathes” with its skin, which means that the salamander absorbs oxygen through its skin and then directly into its bloodstream. The redback salamander needs to live in very wet places where it can keep its skin damp all of the time for breathing.
Redback salamanders eat worms, centipedes, spiders, and other bugs. In places where it gets cold in the winter, redbacks dig a tunnel down into the ground where they spend all winter resting. Some redback salamanders have been found in tunnels that are three feet deep.
Redback salamanders do not travel very far from their homes. One group of scientists watched salamanders that had a home territory of about 300 feet long by 300 feet wide. With such a small territory, redback salamanders are very sensitive to any changes in their environment.
This shenandoah salamander is about the same size as a redback salamander. By Brian Gratwicke
The above links plus:
Gray, Shirley. Wetlands. Minneapolis, MN: Compass Point Books, 2001.
Love, Carrie and Caroline Stamps, ed. Animals: A Children’s Encyclopedia. New York: DK Publishing, 2008. Pp. 186-189.
Oldfield, Barney and John J. Moriarty. Amphibians and Reptiles Native to Minnesota. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1994. Pp. 61-62.’