Rubber Boa (at Hot Springs Source)
Photo: Green Frog
The Northwestern Salamander is a stout, 5 1/2 to 8-inch long uniform dark brown to black, amphibian (cold-blooded animal that start life in water & later transform to a terrestrial form) with a oval tail flattened towards the end. It has strong , well-developed legs and prominent parotoid (swollen area behind eye). Salamanders are voiceless.
It is found mainly in south-western BC. Eggs are laid in February to May in jelly-like masses about the size of a elongated grapefruit. The larvae hatch in about a month and stay in the water about a year. Some metamorphose (change into adult form) in the second summer but others remain in the larval stage indefinitely (neoteny) and breed without gaining adult form.
In the aquatic form they eat voraciously preying on all other living things small enough to swallow. On land look for them under leave litter.
The Western Toad (Anaxyrus boreas) (formerly Northwestern toad – Bufo boreas) is a stout, squat 2-5 inch amphibian of the west found from Alaska to northern California. It has shorter front than hind leg. The skin is rough with large warts. Colour is variable from dark brown to reddish brown background with lighter warts.
Adults congegrate in early Spring along margins of wetlands and lakes to spawn. The male calls with a high pitched note. The eggs are laid in long strings in shallow water. Jet-black tadpoles hatch in a few days and gather in large swarms. Growth is rapid and they exit water at 1/2 inch long to migrate to near by woods. Highway crossing prove dangerous and many toadlets are squashed. Ryder Lake road is a well known hazard.
Adult toads wander considerable distance form water and can be found foraging at dusk for insects and other small creeping organisms. At dawn they retire to damp holes and shaded spots. Look for them along the Miami greenway riparian area. Western Toads are a species of conservation concern.