From Egg to Salamander

On the first rainy night in spring, a mother spotted salamander leaves her winter burrow and travels to a shallow pond. She lays a bunch of eggs that cling to the stem of a plant. Inside each egg, a baby salamander is growing. Can you see this little salamander's head? Can you see its tail?

Salamander eggs aren't hard like chicken eggs. Clear, sticky jelly covers and protects the eggs. The yolk of each egg provides food for the baby salamander, which is called a larva. When the larvae are big enough, they break through their eggs and start swimming. They have long, flat tails to help them swim and feathery gills for breathing underwater. But this spotted salamander won't always live in the pond. Its body is changing, getting ready for when it will leave its watery home to live on land. First, its front legs grow. Then its back legs appear. As its legs grow longer and stronger, the salamander's tail gets skinnier. Its body is changing inside, too. Now the spotted salamander is full grown. It has lungs for breathing air and four strong legs to scurry about looking for worms. It will live under leaves and logs on the forest floor. Then, one spring night, it will return to the pond to lay eggs of its own.

Vocabulary

  • burrow: A hole dug in the ground by a small animal.
  • eggs: Shells with baby animals inside of them.
  • gills: A part of some water animals used for breathing in the water.
  • shallow: Not deep.

Back to Top

Activity

  1. Draw a picture that shows what a salamander looks like after it leaves its egg.
  2. Draw a picture of an adult salamander.
  3. What does the salamander lose when it becomes an adult?