Ohio is a midwestern state that is in the Great Lakes area of the United States. Ohio's state nickname is the "Buckeye State" and it is the 34th largest state in the country. Ohio was the seventeenth state to gain statehood on March 1, 1803. Ohio has various state symbols including a state bird (Northern Cardinal), fruit (tomato), mammal (white-tailed deer), and insect (ladybug).
The Spotted Salamander: the Official Ohio State Amphibian
The spotted salamander is the official Ohio State amphibian. The spotted salamander, commonly known as the mole salamander, is a 9 inch long amphibian that is quite prevalent in the deciduous forests of North America. The spotted salamanders are stout and have very wide snouts. The main color of the mole salamanders is black, but they can also be dark-brown, dark green, dark grey, or even bluish black. The spotted salamanders have two rows of yellowish-orange spots that run from the tip of their tails to their heads. The spots on its body are yellowish while the ones near its eyes are orange. The underside of the mole salamander is pink or gray. The department of natural resources of Ohio reports that the spotted salamanders can be found anywhere in the state.
The spotted salamanders reside in a shelter of burrows and leaves in the deciduous forests. These salamanders migrate to their breeding ponds as soon as the moisture level increases and the temperature rises. The adult spotted salamanders mate in the pond during spring when it’s raining. The females lay approximately one hundred eggs in a single clutch that clings to an underwater plant. The eggs hatch after about two months. The spotted salamander’s larva is greenish-yellow or light brown with minute dark spots and external gills. The mole salamanders have a lifespan of approximately thirty-two years.
Habitat and Diet
The spotted salamanders can be found in the woodlands which have slow-moving rivers, vernal pools, and swamps. The adult spotted salamanders spend most of their time under stones, boards, logs or underground. The larvae’s diet is dominated by zooplankton, but they feed on amphipods and isopods. The adults use their sticky tongues to catch underground snails, insects, and worms.
Adoption of State Amphibian
The process of making the mole salamander the Ohio state amphibian began as a school project by middle-school students from the county of Geauga. However, it ended up being a study of how long it takes for things to be done in the Ohio legislature. The students from West Geauga together with senator Grendell started pushing for the adoption of the spotted salamander as the state’s amphibian while promoting wetland protection. The students from Geauga county faced as a stiff challenge from the Columbus-area students who were advocating for the bullfrog to be the Ohio state amphibian. The state ended up drafting a salamander-bullfrog hybrid proposal which named the spotted salamander as the state amphibian and the bullfrog as the Ohio state frog.