Within the last month, Upham Woods has added three new animals to the collection of reptiles and amphibians housed in the nature center.
The first and largest of the newcomers is a tiger salamander named Squishy. In the wild, tiger salamanders are Wisconsin natives, calling wet prairies, and woodlands home. They are also the largest terrestrial salamander in the world, growing to a length of one foot. Tiger salamanders love to dig, and spend a lot of time underground during dry summer months. As a result, it is very difficult to find a tiger salamander except during spring and fall after long rains. They are also known for their appetites, and will eat literally any small animal that they can catch and shove into their mouths. In fact, the scientific name for the mole salamander family, which tiger salamanders belong to, means “cram it in the mouth”.
Squishy is nicely settled into her new habitat, and has already made her first program appearances. She enjoys digging, exploring, and hunting down crickets and mealworms. Tiger salamanders begin life in water, much like a frog does, and can live to be up to twenty years. Squishy was found last year as an aquatic larva, and will hopefully call Upham Woods home for many more years to come.
In addition to Squishy, we also have two very new eastern gray treefrogs. These frogs were raised by an Upham Woods staff member from tadpoles, and are just starting their lives as adults. They are currently very small, and are being kept off program until they are large enough to display. However, they both have healthy appetites, and are getting larger with each passing week. As adults, eastern gray treefrogs boast a couple of unique adaptations. One is a set of sticky toe pads on their feet instead of webbing. These pads help them climb, and can let them stick on anything from tree bark to window glass. The other is the ability to change color from green to gray. This enables them to expertly camouflage themselves against the trees and shrubs that they tend to hide in.
Soon all of these animals will be busy serving as animal ambassadors in our Scales, Scutes, & Skins program. To learn more about these and some of the other amphibians and reptiles calling Upham Woods home, be sure to ask one of our naturalists, or stop by and meet them in person.