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Luna Sea
Toxic Learning 
7th-Feb-2009 11:08 am
Back when I worked in Pescadero, I discovered that there was a time of year that the salamanders wandered across the road.  I'd find hundreds of them squished all over.  This is them:

Cute huh?  Whenever I found one alive, I'd scoop it up and stick it in the car next to me then deposit it (and his buddies) at a creek at the end of my drive.  They were all out wandering, looking for mates.  On an average day, I'd rescue a dozen of them.

So, today I was grabbing a container of kitty litter from the front porch and discovered a baby salamander (just like this) had taken up residence under it.  I scooped him up to bring in and show Rozz.  Gregg saw him and expressed his concern, having read that California salamanders are toxic.
I was shocked.
Happily, I'm almost certain the little guy I found was a Santa Cruz Black Salamander or a juvenile Arboreal Salamander, and not one of the three toxic ones in our state.  That said... the hundreds that I rescued in Pescadero... those were the toxic ones.  The most toxic species of newt out there.  They release a tetrodotoxin that is exactly the same as the toxin released by pufferfish.  From what I understand, the danger really only comes from ingesting the substance they emmit and not from simply touching it, but it's nothing to mess around with.

And now I'm all nerves and jitters.  Don't think I'll be picking up any creepy crawlies for a while.  Ugh.  And I like the creepy crawlies so much.  I'm realizing just how lucky I am to have not accidentally killed myself, saving all those little guys.

7th-Feb-2009 08:33 pm (UTC)
Oh my goodness, I've played with many salamanders too (mostly very small ones from our yard) and never knew any were poisonous. I guess it's a good general assumption with brightly colored animals, but the little guys are just so cute I would never guess they could be so deadly.
8th-Feb-2009 06:09 pm (UTC)
Yeah... me too. It's simply unfair that the animal kingdom allows cute to occasionally equal deadly. All the deadly critters should be covered in thorns, look ugly and smell really bad. 'Cuz that's the only way I'll be able to resist their adorable wiles.
7th-Feb-2009 09:47 pm (UTC)
meh i picked up salamanders all the time as a kid too. the ones i found were black too but had brilliant red and back spotted tummies. did yours have a red/orange tummy?
8th-Feb-2009 03:06 am (UTC)
The one today was just black all over with tiny pin prick sized white spots all over his back. It was just a teeny, baby one... about 2 inches long. But the hundreds I rescued in Pescadero look exactly like the red and ornage one I posted.
I've been picking up sallies since I was a kid. I had no idea any of them were toxic. Crazy.
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