Cave Salamander

Eurycea lucifuga
Rafinesque, 1822
Union Co., Illinois. October 8, 1977.

There is a place where a small spring seeps out of a shaded crevice in the bluffs. The crevice is of a size and depth that makes me wonder how many thousands of years have gone by since water first issued from these rocks. Back in the crevice, in the cracks and holes left by the dissolution of softer rock, live the cave salamanders. On wet spring days I can crouch in the entrance, and in the dim light, count thirty or more salamanders on the walls and floor. If I come back at night, my flashlight catches lucifuga out in the open, crawling on logs and rocks and leaf litter surrounding the crevice, hunting insects.

How long have these creatures been here? Probably since the glacier torrents subsided, and the deciduous forest returned to carpet the tops and bottoms of these bluffs – perhaps ten-twelve thousand years? A blink of the eye in rock time, but older than the civilizations of humankind. They may be here after we are gone, if the spring and the woodlands remain.

My Flickr album for this species is here.

HerpMapper records for this species are here.

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