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AMPHIBIANS

Amphibians are the most primitive of terrestrial vertebrates.

Examine various animals from this group to determine similarities among them. You might observe frogs, toads, newts, caecilians ("cis-SILL-yans"), and salamanders.

Most amphibians live part of their lives in water and part on land, have an internal skeleton and their bodies are covered with moist skin, most have two pairs of legs for locomotion, and hatch from eggs laid in water. (Caecilians are limbless, worm-like amphibians that burrow. They are blind.) The amphibians are cold-blooded. (We know what that means, because it has been discussed in other projects.) Nearly 2,800 species of amphibians have been identified. That really is not many.

When they hatch, they are aquatic, water-breathing, and limbless tadpoles. In the process of metamorphosis, they become terrestrial (or partly terrestrial), air-breathing, four-legged adults. (Say, "met-ta-MOR-foe-siss".)

Salamanders can be found in damp, wooded areas under rotting logs, rocks, and matted leaves. After a rain they can be seen on rocks and logs. If you are quick, you can pick up a salamander on land; a salamander can be scooped from ponds with a net. Be gentle; they are delicate animals. If you want one for a pet, they can be purchased at pet stores where they have fish.

Caution: Some salamanders have poison glands on their skins. It has also been found that many reptiles and amphibians carry salmonella. It is extremely important that you wash your hands with hot, soapy water, after handling any animal, its' food, or its' waste. Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth before washing your hands.

Place salamanders in a woodland terrarium made in a large jar or aquarium tank. Plant it with small ferns, moss, and wood-land plants. Add rocks for cover and climbing, and a jar-lid of water pressed into the soil.

A weighted wire screen over the top is necessary to keep the salamanders from escaping. Salamanders will eat small aquatic life, small insects and their nymphs, earthworms, and mealworms.

If you acquired your salamanders from the wild, and they do not eat, return them, immediately, to where they were found.

 

 
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