Oak Mountain State Park is hosting a Tiger Salamander education event

Published 4:54 pm Monday, July 24, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By BARTON PERKINS | Staff Writer

PELHAM – The Conservation of Eastern Tiger Salamanders! Lesson and Interactive Game is coming to the Oak Mountain interpretive center on Saturday, July 29 from 11 a.m. to noon. and 3.-4p.m. The event is free for anyone who has purchased a day pass.

The Tiger Salamander is the largest terrestrial, land-dwelling salamander in North America. It also happens to be protected by law in the state of Alabama.

The Eastern Tiger Salamander can grow up to around eight inches long and will live for roughly 12-15 years. While not as famous as their close cousin the Axolotl, Tiger Salamanders are notable in their own right and were named the state reptile of Illinois back in 2005.

Tiger Salamanders primarily spend their time on land, though much like frogs, they are born and breed in the water. In many ways they’re essentially the opposite of axolotls, who spend their lives almost entirely in water, but the two species have been known to crossbreed. All captively bred axolotls are descendants of Tiger Salamanders, which give them more colorful appearances than purebred wild stock axolotls who come in browns and grays.

The Tiger salamander can be found all over North America, but they’ve started to vanish in Alabama. This is concerning for many conservationists because Tiger Salamanders are a keystone species.

Keystone species are plants or animals that keep their entire ecosystem running. In the case of the Tiger Salamander, they control pests like mosquitos by eating them, and in turn tiger salamanders are then preyed on by bigger animals like bobcats. Without them the mosquito population would likely explode and a lot of bobcats would go hungry.

There are not many clear reasons why the Tiger salamander is not thriving at the moment in Alabama. It could be a variety of factors including habitat loss and environmental pollution. 

Groups like Oak Mountain State Park are starting to put forth initiatives to bring awareness of this species and the important role it plays in our State’s forests. At The Conservation of Eastern Tiger Salamanders! Lesson and Interactive Game, participants will get to meet Oak Mountain’s very own teacher creature the Tiger Salamander Vern and learn even more interesting facts about this fascinating species.

For more information about the Tiger salamander, and The Conservation of Eastern Tiger Salamanders! Lesson and Interactive Game be sure to visit Oak Mountain State Park’s website.