Santa Cruz Long-toed Salamander

Ambystoma macrodactylum croceum
Santa Cruz Long-Toed Salamander

Birds and mammals are not the only species that migrate.  Raindrops that saturate the ground from November to February trigger the urge for Santa Cruz long-toed salamanders to begin their nocturnal journey from their burrows to a nearby pond to breed.  This migration averages only about half a mile on the refuge, but for a species that is four to six inches long, it can be quite an undertaking.   

Once at the pond, courtship begins between the male and female with the male leaving a spermatophore on the pond bottom for the female to fertilize her eggs.  Despite laying 100-400 eggs, only a small fraction of the young will reach breeding adulthood.  Their survival depends on many variables including sufficient rainfall, parasites, available habitat, and safe crossing to the breeding pond.  Read more about the salamander, and what the refuge is doing to protect this species.

The Perilous Journey of the Santa Cruz Long-toed Salamander 

Ellicott Slough National Wildlife Refuge - Home of the Santa Cruz Long-toed Salamander 

Facts About Santa Cruz Long-toed Salamander

Federally listed as endangered in 1967 

Can live 10 years or more 

Spends most of its life in small mammal burrows