The name truly says it all - if you have seen a dark-colored salamander with one long toe on its back foot, it’s likely you’ve had an encounter with a long-toed salamander. R2 Hillside’s entire 15 acres is in the biotic area, one of the most popular spots for long-toed salamander breeding.
The wet ponds make this environment the ideal habitat for long-toed salamanders, as they spend a significant portion of their lives underground in the burrows of small mammals such as mice, gophers, and moles. They are also well-equipped for swimming, as their bodies have a tail fin to keep them moving right along. This is why they can often be found in ponds, lakes, and traveling along rivers. Here, they are able to find crickets, beetles, flies, and worms to snack on.
In 1971, California declared the long-toed salamander endangered. These creatures are now fully protected here in Aptos Hills, so if you see one - let it be! You will be lucky to see one of these rare and spectacular creatures. You can identify these animals by their long fourth toe and tan/yellowish/olive stripe along the backside of their body. They have a noticeably longer tail when compared to other salamanders, so they are hard to miss! These animals are relatively small in size when it comes to their body, however. Most of them measure about 4 to 12 inches in length on average.
If you see a long-toed salamander moving at a quick pace, it is likely because they are completing their impressive treks to and from the breeding ponds. While this usually occurs at night, they are remarkably programmed to keep moving when conditions are right! Their back feet are also webbed, making it easy for them to climb rocks and maneuver around difficult crevices.
Don’t tell me you’re an animal lover…
If you only love the furry ones