This little one, if it is fortunate, will someday be 6 inches long or so. Spotted salamanders Ambystoma maculatum* are among the biggest salamanders in New England, perhaps because they are able to take shelter from our harsh winters. In the worst weather they refuge in the burrows of other animals, especially (apparently) those of short-tailed shrews. At other times they remain in the leaf litter and debris of the forest, hunting for soft-bodied prey. Very briefly they convene in ponds, preferably those without fish, to reproduce. Friends of mine predict the day of this event with regular success, heading out on a rainy spring night to photograph hundreds of salamanders on their way to the ponds.
* Ambystoma - amblys (Greek) for blunt; -stoma (Greek) meaning mouth; or anabystoma (New Latin) meaning ‘to cram into the mouth’
Maculatum means spotted.