Marbled Salamander

Marbled Salamander

Combating climate change, one salamander at a time

Follow along on our salamanders' journey from aquatic larvae to terrestrial juveniles! More

Middlesex Fells, a large tract of natural habitat five miles from Boston, was once a home and safe haven for marbled salamanders. However, salamander numbers have steadily and dramatically declined in this region due to habitat fragmentation and loss. In fact, the last recorded sighting in Middlesex Fells was in 1932. Thanks to the work of Zoo New England and Grassroots Wildlife Conservation, the future is looking brighter for these tiny amphibians.

Today, though the forest and vernal pools at Middlesex Fells have reestablished themselves, salamanders still stand little chance of crossing highways surrounding the area. Through a head-start program in partnership with Grassroots Wildlife Conservation and Medford High School, Zoo New England raises marbled salamanders at Stone Zoo until they metamorphose into terrestrial juveniles. Once they’re old enough to survive in the wild, the salamanders will be released directly into Middlesex Fells.

It’s estimated that the head-starting process provides reintroduced salamanders with more than a 40-fold increase in their chances of surviving to become breeding adults at 4 to 5 years of age.

Small amphibian. Big role.

Salamanders play an important role in climate change with every bite they eat. Here's how: Leaf litter from deciduous trees is made up of about 47.5% carbon. When invertebrates shred and eat leaves, carbon and methane gasses are released into the atmosphere. Salamanders eat these “shredder” insects, allowing a larger percentage of leaf litter to stay preserved in the soil rather than escaping into the air. Thus, salamanders help reduce our carbon footprint just by staying hungry.

Because of their extreme sensitivity to environmental factors, salamanders can also be an early-warning system for ecological decline. Having life stages in water and land, only healthy forests can support this species.

In addition to marbled salamanders, Zoo New England and Grassroots Wildlife Conservation are also head-starting and releasing Blanding’s Turtles. Learn more here and in the video below.

A head-start's journey

June 21: Release Day!

A big day for nine tiny salamanders! For the second year in a row, we were proud to participate in the release of head-started marbled salamanders into the Middlesex Fells. This was the first year that marbled salamanders had been head-started at Stone Zoo. These salamanders now have a more than 40-fold increase in their chances of surviving to become breeding adults at 4-5 years of age.

While these amphibians may be small, they play a big part in combating global warming.


June 3: Morphed salamanders are growing

The morphed salamanders continue to grow! They like eating crickets and hiding under leaves and moss. They’re almost big enough for their release into the Middlesex Fells later this spring! Stay tuned for more updates as we get closer to their release.


Photos and video courtesy of Dayle Sullivan-Taylor

May 13: Salamanders have morphed and are land dwelling

All of the marbled salamanders have morphed and are now land dwelling. Stay tuned for more updates as we get closer to their release!


April 29: The journey begins!

Our head-started marbled salamanders are beginning their journey towards a new start in the wild! We're raising these tiny amphibians here at Stone Zoo until they metamorphose into terrestrial juveniles. Here's a look at their progress over five weeks: