Happy National Wildlife Week. We're going to talk about salamanders.

These are incredible animals. They're amphibians, so they're related to frogs and toads even though they kind of look like lizards. They've got four legs and a long tail. Completely different kind of animal.

And one of the things that separates reptiles like lizards and amphibians like salamanders is their skin. Amphibians have moist skin and they actually absorb gases and liquids and anything in those gases and liquids right through their skin.

So it's so important that we take care of our amphibians because they are an indicator species. If there are toxins in the air and they take it in through their skin and their populations are dropping, it's a message to us we need to do something in that area about it.

These are strange little critters. Kids often talk about the large animals they want to see or the beautiful flighted animals, but take some time, go out in your backyard if there's a stream nearby. Get down on your knees and look up close at all that's happening in a small stream of water with amphibians like this in your own backyard.

That's right, and North America, the woodlands and mountains of eastern North America in particular are a global salamander diversity hot spot. These are wildlife species that actually do live all around us as long as we keep the environment clean.

Leave leaf litter in your yard, don't spray pesticides, plant lots of native wildflowers to provide them with habitat and pretty soon you'll have some slimy little salamander neighbors.

And that's really what National Wildlife Week is all about this year. So I hope everybody goes right now and takes the National Wildlife Week pledge.

Updated on November 22, 2023

How Salamanders Can Predict Environmental Changes and Threats

Crawly salamanders may resemble a lizard, but they’re actually amphibians — the same classification as toads and frogs! Salamanders play an important role in our environment as an indicator species. We can study their population numbers to see if there are toxins in the air, as the salamander intakes these toxins through their skin. This lets conservationists know to improve conditions so the salamander population can thrive.

Watch this video about how to protect salamanders.

Source: National Wildlife Federation

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