Encounters with Canada’s Rarest Salamander!

Small-mouthed Salamander (Ambystoma texanum)

Small-mouthed Salamander (Ambystoma texanum)

The Small-mouthed Salamander (Ambystoma texanum) is the rarest salamander species found in Canada, being only found on Pelee Island, Ontario; the southern most point of Canada. The Small-Mouthed Salamander is Federally listed as an Endangered Species by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). This is due to both its extremely small range, and population declines caused by habitat loss.

In the spring of 2000, the Small-mouthed Salamander was observed in only three existing breeding grounds on the island; occupying an area no bigger than 5km2 (COSEWIC)! And now much of their historical breeding grounds have disappeared or are now in trouble. Since 1991 two of the five breeding grounds have disappeared completely when formerly flooded woodlots permanently dried up (Ellerbeck, 2013).

For salamander enthusiast Matt Ellerbeck seeing this species is, and sadly may be, a once in a life time event:

“To see this species I had to embark on a 9 hour road trip, and then board a Ferry and trek another hour and a half across the water to reach the island. I was, however, rewarded by observing 6 of these amazing and infrequent salamanders! Encountering these salamanders in the wild was a tremendously momentous and exceptional experience for me, and certainly one I will never forget! The experience has also filled me with a tremendous sense of concern as the Small-mouthed Salamanders are still declining and the threat of extirpation is great. Many of the herptile species that were formerly found on Pelee Island have disappeared, including the Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum). For those who camp, vacation, or have homes on Pelee Island (especially near woodlands, forests, and wetlands), please take a moment to learn how you can help ensure the Small-Mouthed Salamander does not join this list of exterminated species!”

–          Matt Ellerbeck, 2013

Learn tips to help these unique amphibians and get involved in their conservation!

Check out: Save the Salamander