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Green Salamander (Aneides aeneus) Egg Development

SalamanderAlan

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This last summer I monitored about 25 Green Salamander (Aneides aeneus) egg nests in a western North Carolina state park. Usually, Greens lay their eggs two or more inches inside a rock crevice making observation fairly easy but photography difficult to impossible. But this year on June 13 I found a gravid female in a very shallow crevice; in fact the crevice was so shallow that I did not believe that she would lay there. The liability of laying eggs so close to the rock face is that passing predators can easily see the white eggs, and so nests of this type rarely survive. But this female stayed there and a week later on June 21 she laid her clutch of at least 19 eggs. This nest rock was in a rhododendron tangle so I thought that it did have some chance of not being seen by predators. I visited the site every 2-3 days to take pictures as the eggs developed and they successfully hatched 80 days later on September 6. The typical incubation period for Greens in my area is 78 days.

Below is a series of photos of the nesting from the time the female was first seen to after the eggs had hatched. These photos clearly show how the Green's eggs develop.

My photography also showed that eggs occasionally disappear from Green nests. We have long suspected that female Greens can sense the health of the eggs and will remove, by eating, dead or diseased eggs, and one of this female's eggs did disappear during the incubation period.

Female Greens are also able to protect their eggs from being engulfed in wild fungus. We believe she does this by rubbing some secretion from glands on her head onto the eggs. Egg nests abandoned by the female will have a thick fungus growth in about three days after abandonment.

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Azhael

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Those are some absolutely gorgeous pictures! Thank you so much for sharing them with us!
You are very lucky to be able to observe this in nature consistently :)
 

elKendo97

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It is good news to know that this species can breed in captivity, it is very interesting.

I would like see some photos of the setup where you keep.

Greetings.
 

Bellabelloo

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elKendo97 , these are not captive bred, but photographed in situ in their natural environment. Stunning photo's.
 

elKendo97

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I know, but from what I've read in some book this salamander has been bred in captivity only rarely, to what I was referring is that it would be spectacular to see captive breeding.

Sorry, I think I misunderstood the text lol.
 

SalamanderAlan

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ElKendo97, Julia is absolutely correct. This was not a captive breeding at all but was a nest found in the wild. In North Carolina these salamanders are listed as 'endangered' so it would be very much against the law to have one in captivity.
 

Aneides Aeneus

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Wonderful photos - those are some extremely cute juveniles! It is really neat to be able to see the stages of development chronologically in your photos; I don't think I've seen such a good documentation of it anywhere on the internet or in books. Thanks so much for sharing!

-Ananth
 
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