Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Fearless Salamander Hunters

Before we went to the Smoky Mountains, the boys did some "research" (namely, having their 'rents read books to them about the national park). They were stoked: the Smokies are supposedly the "salamander capital of the world".

All I heard from Max for two weeks leading up to the trip was that salamanders were shy. Heck yeah, they're shy. Most are tiny-wee critters who have to be near moisture at all times. To top that off, they're nocturnal. I'm not (not anymore...back in college, maybe).

We did find some on our hikes, picking up rocks at the edge of streams and reconnoitering all around damp areas. Our best find was at Grotto Falls, of course it was an uphill hike to get there...granted, only 1.4 miles one way, but Max is only three. Guess who carried him? C'mon, guess.

Anywho, the fearless salamander hunters (aka Owen and Max) found some of the slimy little guys.

Not all that scary, being that the biggest was about three inches long. Now these critters from Japan...terrifying (in the right context, of 400 of them showing up in your swimming pool).

We saw some other oddities, too, such as the mating ritual of the ultra-rare synchronous fireflies. These strange wee beasties (the males flash almost in unison) only exist in two places on the planet: in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and in Malaysia. Who knew?

Now that we're home, I'm ready to put some words on digital paper.


Cate Gardner said...

Ooh! Slimy. I don't like slimy things.

Fox Lee said...

Oh they are so cute : )

Jodi Lee (Morrighan) said...

Those things get in my basement. At least twice a year, my youngest carts a pail down to put them in, and she takes them out to the creek.

Most of ours have stripes, though. Very faint, but there.


Alan W. Davidson said...

I'm glad that the fearless salamander hunters had a great adventure. I'm reminded of hunting for newts while visiting with cousins in Scotland. These things seem to stick in the memories of boys for life. Hope it proves good fodder for a horror.

Aaron Polson said...

Cate - slimy and fast.

Natalie - I think so...the big ones, not so much.

Jodi - Fun. We only have spiders and camel crickets in our basement.

Alan - They're slimy, live under rocks, and only come out at night...sounds good to me.

Unknown said...

Giant Salamanders - another good reason to visit Japan.

K.C. Shaw said...

Awesome! I used to love looking for salamanders, but of course I'm scared of crawdads and they live in the same places. It was "turn the rock over and jump back" for me. :)

I'm glad you had a good time!

Katey said...

Mmm Appalachian love! I grew up hunting those little guys (and then carefully putting them back where I found them) about ten hours north of where you were. Awesome!

Aaron Polson said...

Jeremy - that's exactly my thought.

KC - found some crawdads, too, but they were all underwater and hard to photograph (oh, I tried).

Katey - "Nature stays in Nature" (Owen's favorite quote on the trip)

Unknown said...

ack! cute! i think the fearless hunters need a salmander of their own... or a snake! some of us weren't allowed snakes as a child...

Carrie Harris said...

Isn't it funny how they get fixated on things like that? (They being kids.) When we went on vacation a couple of years ago, our son was THRILLED by the ice maker. Never mind that he was seeing the desert for the first time; the ice maker was the bomb.