Within the boundaries of the Forest Preserves of Cook County, residents and visitors can experience a vast array of habitats, including forest woodlands, wetlands, prairie and savanna. In addition to providing visitors and residents with outdoor recreation, nature and volunteer opportunities, the Forest Preserves serve another vital role: offering the habitats necessary for numerous different species of plants and wildlife to thrive.
One of the many interesting species found in the Forest Preserves are salamanders. Below are some facts on why salamanders are so intriguing:
- Salamanders are the second largest group of amphibians. Because of similar characteristics, salamanders may be confused for lizards; however, lizards are reptiles.
- Salamander are ectothermic (cold-blooded). They cannot regulate their internal body temperature on their own; they rely on external heat to help regulate their internal body temperature.
- Salamanders produce a mucus that covers their skin.
- Salamanders have very sensitive and absorbent skin.
- Some salamanders can breathe through their skin.
- Salamanders are cannibals. They will eat other salamanders that are smaller than themselves when given the opportunity.
- Salamanders are capable of regenerating lost limbs.
- Salamanders are very sensitive to environmental change and pollution, and are what scientists refer to as an “Indicator Species,” or a species that is very intolerant of pollution and environmental change.