Why the shenandoah Salamander?
What better amphibian to represent Virginia than one that lives in it's most beloved park? The Shenandoah salamander (Plethodon shenandoah) is endemic to Virginia and lives only in Shenandoah National Park which is one of the most visited parks on the east coast.
Salamanders are unusual in their ability to breathe through their skin. This means that they must have a moist environment to survive. The Shenandoah salamander is special because the habitat it has chosen is on the highest mountaintops that Virginia has to offer. These tiny creatures (measuring 7-10 cm in length) can live their entire lives in a territory no larger than a kitchen table, albeit a table with a great view. When the weather gets too hot or cold, they burrow underground until more suitable conditions arise.
WHAT ELSE MAKES THEM SPECIAL?
As human beings we often think that we are alone in our desire to protect our young. But how do we measure up to the Shenandoah salamander's standards of motherhood? After the Shenandoah salamander lays her eggs, she stays to guard them from predators. This means that she goes without eating for up to three months while waiting for her eggs to hatch! Though many of us go without sleep for that long, I doubt we could survive the trials of a salamander motherhood.
INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE?
If you are interested in helping advocate for the nomination of the Shenadoah salamander as the state amphibian of Virginia, please let us know.