Did you know that Smoky Mountain National Park is known as “The salamander capital of the world”? Well that’s quite a surprise! What animal do you think of as inhabitants of the mountains? Most people would answer bears, or deer, or fish, certainly not salamanders!
According to the National Park Service there are at least 30 different species of salamanders in the park. Some of the types of salamanders are the red-cheeked salamanders, found only in and near the park. And the beautiful, vibrant, red salamanders pictured above. At any given time there are more salamanders in the park than all the other land animals. I am always on the lookout for salamanders when I’m hiking or relaxing on the front porch of our log cabin. And you’d think with all those salamanders a person could easily spot them, but no. I have only seen one salamander in all our travels to Gatlinburg.
One spring day while sitting on the porch of Southern Serenity I was lucky enough to be visited by a salamander – then he quickly scurried away, I barely had time to snap this photo (you can see him in the shadow). I’m not quite sure what type of salamander it was, but I know he was friendly or he wouldn’t have ventured up by me on the porch!
The largest salamanders found in the park are hellbenders. They can reach over 2 feet in length. Watch this video to learn more about ongoing hellbender research in the park.
For more information about salamanders and other park creatures visit the National Park Service website, http://www.nps.gov/grsm/naturescience/amphibians.htm.