CaliforniaHerps.com

A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California





A California Tiger Salamander Breeding Pond
Changing From Month to Month, Year to Year

 






 



observation link

 
 

One habitat picture can never show the whole story, so these are pictures of one Contra Costa County pond located at approximately 1400 ft. in elevation (427 m.) as it looked in different months (of different years) showing how the pond and its surroundings change over the seasons and the years.

California Tiger Salamanders, California Red-legged Frogs, Sierran Treefrogs, and California Toads have been observed breeding in the pond. Diablo Range Gartersnakes, Northern Pacific Rattlesnakes, and Western Yellow-bellied Racers have been observed hunting in or around the edge of the pond.

Northern Pacific Rattlesnakes, Pacific Gophersnakes, Pacific Ring-necked Snakes, Sharp-tailed Snakes, California Alligator Lizards, Coast Range Fence Lizards, Skilton's Skinks, California Slender Salamanders, and Yellow-eyed Ensatina have been observed in the grasses and woods near the pond, along with the many California Ground Squirrels that have their burrows all around the pond and the cows that feed around and drink from the pond.



A California Tiger Salamander Breeding Pond Shown Month to Month From 2013 on - Including Several Record Drought Years


When I asked Mark Gary to help me get a year of photographs of this pond to show how it changes during the seasons we did not know that 2013 was going to be the dryest year ever recorded since the state began measuring rainfall in 1849. So instead of a look at the pond in a typical year, this is what the pond looked like in a drought year. 2014 started very dry but by March there was enough water for treefrogs and toads to breed, then no rain until late November and a huge rainstorm in early December when it filled up again. 2015 was another dry year but as in the previous years there was still enough precipitation to fill the pond enough for the salamanders to return and breed.

tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
April 2013  © Mark Gary
May 2013  © Mark Gary June 2013 © Mark Gary July 2013 © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
August 2013 © Mark Gary September 2013 © Mark Gary October 2013  © Mark Gary
November 2013  © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
December 2013 © Mark Gary
January 2014 © Mark Gary


February 1, 2014 © Mark Gary


February 17, 2014
After the first large rainstorm in over a year. Sierran Treefrogs quickly laid eggs in the water. Maybe the CA Tiger salamanders will breed this year, after all.
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
Early March, 2014 © Mark Gary


Late March, 2014 © Mark Gary


Mid April, 2014 © Mark Gary Early May, 2014 © Mark Gary
Mark reports seeing California Tiger Salamander larvae in the pond. He heard from an East Bay Parks biologist that tiger salamander larvae have not been seen at most of the known breeding locations this year.
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
Early June, 2014 © Mark Gary June 21, 2014 © Mark Gary Early July, 2014 © Mark Gary Mid July 2014 - dry again © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
Early August, 2014 © Mark Gary Early September 2014 © Mark Gary Mid October 2014 © Mark Gary Early November 2014 © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
Full again, early December 2014
© Mark Gary
Early January 2015 (Full of Sierran treefrog eggs and CA Tiger Salamander eggs.) © Mark Gary Early February 2015 - no rain since December. © Mark Gary Early March 2015   © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
Early April  2015   © Mark Gary Early May 2015. Toxic Blue Green Algae has been discovered.   © Mark Gary Mid May 2015, after thunderstorms 
© Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
Early June 2015 © Mark Gary Early July, 2015 © Mark Gary Early August, 2015 © Mark Gary Nothing but dirt again, Early September, 2015 © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
Early October, 2015 © Mark Gary Early November, 2015 © Mark Gary Filling up, early December, 2015
© Mark Gary
January 3rd, 2016 © Mark Gary
CA Tiger Salamander eggs are present
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
January 31st, 2016 © Mark Gary 
CA Tiger salamander eggs still present
February 6th, 2016 © Mark Gary 
CA Tiger salamander embryos with gills are visible. Some have already hatched.
Early March, 2016 © Mark Gary  Early April, 2016 © Mark Gary 
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
Early May, 2016 © Mark Gary  Early June, 2016 © Mark Gary  Early July, 2016 © Mark Gary  Mid August, 2016 © Mark Gary 
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
Early September, 2016 © Mark Gary
For the past three years, the pond has been completely dry in September, but not this year.
Early October, 2016 © Mark Gary
Nothing left but a puddle.
Mid October, 2016 © Mark Gary
The rains have begun.
Early November, 2016 © Mark Gary
After a lot of rainfall, news reports are declaring the drought over in Northern California. The pond seems to agree when compared to the lack of water in the three previous Novembers.
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
December 3rd, 2016 © Mark Gary
CA Tiger salamander eggs were laid this year between November 26th and December 3rd.

Early January, 2017 © Mark Gary
Following new heavy rains, the pond contains new CA Tiger salamander eggs.
Mid January, 2017 © Mark Gary
Pond still contains CA Tiger salamander eggs.
Early February, 2017 © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
Early March, 2017 © Mark Gary
Sierran Treefrog eggs are hatched, CA Red-legged Frog egg laying has begun, CA Tiger Salamander larvae are visible.
Early April, 2017 © Mark Gary
Sierran Treefrogs have laid more eggs.
Early May, 2017 © Mark Gary Early June, 2017 © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
Early July, 2017 © Mark Gary Mid July, 2017. CA Tiger Salamander larvae still visible coming up for air.
© Mark Gary
Early August, 2017. Larvae still
visible in pond. © Mark Gary
Early September, 2017. Record heat, but water still present with many young CA Red-legged frogs seen in the pond.
© Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
Early October, 2017
© Mark Gary
Mid October, 2017 © Mark Gary
Heavy equipment has been used to modify the earthen dam that maintains the pond. The outflow channel into the nearby creek has been moved to the other side of the pond and reinforced with rocks. The former outflow channel had eroded to the point that it was keeping the pond at a lower level when it was full. It will be very interesting to observe the pond in the coming years to see if this maintenance causes the pond to increase in size so much that it stops drying out. If the pond does not dry out, that creates the opportunity for American Bullfrogs, which prefer a permanent water source, to move in, which could be disasterous for the tiger salamanders and other amphibians that currently utilize the pond. Fortunately, maybe miraculously, bullfrogs have not yet been found in the permanent pond nearby or in any other nearby pond, to my knowledge.
tiger salamander habitat      
Early November, 2017, after the pond has been modified. © Mark Gary      
       

Comparisons of the California Tiger Salamander Breeding Pond During the Same Month of Different Years

       
January
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
January 2012 (Breeding Season) January 2014 © Mark Gary January 2015 © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
January 3rd, 2016 © Mark Gary
CA Tiger Salamander eggs are present.
January 31st, 2016 © Mark Gary 
CA Tiger salamander eggs still present.
Early January, 2017 © Mark Gary
Following new heavy rains, the pond contains new CA Tiger salamander eggs.
Mid January, 2017 © Mark Gary
Pond still contains CA Tiger Salamander eggs.
       
  February  
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
February 2011
Early February 2014 © Mark Gary Early February 2015 © Mark Gary February 6th, 2016 © Mark Gary 
CA Tiger salamander embryos with gills are visible. Some have already hatched.
tiger salamander habitat      
Early February, 2017 © Mark Gary
     
       
  March  
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
March 2006 March 2010 March 2011 Late March, 2014 © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat  
Early March 2015   © Mark Gary Early March, 2016 © Mark Gary  Early March, 2017 © Mark Gary
Sierran Treefrog eggs are hatched, Red-legged Frog egg laying has begun, CA Tiger Salamander larvae are visible.
 
       
  April  
California Red-legged Frog Habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
April 2003 April 2013 © Mark Gary
Mid April, 2014 © Mark Gary Early April  2015 © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat    
Early April, 2016 © Mark Gary  Early April, 2017 © Mark Gary
Sierran Treefrogs have laid more eggs.
   
       
  May  
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
May 2011 May 2013  © Mark Gary Early May, 2014 © Mark Gary
Early May, 2015 © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat  
Early May, 2016 © Mark Gary  Early May, 2017 © Mark Gary Late May, 2017  
       
  June  
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
June 2010 June 2010 June 2013 © Mark Gary Early June, 2014 © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat  
Early June 2015 © Mark Gary Early June, 2016 © Mark Gary  Early June, 2017 © Mark Gary  
       
  July  
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
July 2011 July 2013 © Mark Gary Early July, 2014 © Mark Gary Early July, 2015 © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat  
Early July, 2016 © Mark Gary  Early July, 2017 © Mark Gary Mid July, 2017. CA Tiger Salamander larvae still visible coming up for air.
© Mark Gary
 
       
  August  
pond tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
August 2010 - As I am trying to photograph tiger salamander larvae in the water, a couple of biologists come and drag a net through the pond. They find Sierran treefrogs with deformities caused by parasites spread by snails, and they tell me that the dreaded chytrid fungus is here, too. August 2011 August 2013 © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
August, 2014 © Mark Gary Early August, 2015 © Mark Gary Mid August, 2016 © Mark Gary  Early August, 2017. Larvae still
visible in pond. © Mark Gary
       
  September  
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
September 2012  © Mark Gary
September 2013 © Mark Gary September 2014 © Mark Gary Early September, 2015 © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat    
Early September, 2016 © Mark Gary  Early September, 2017. Record heat, but water still present with many young CA Red-legged frogs seen in the pond.
© Mark Gary
   
       
  October  
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
October 2013  © Mark Gary October 2014 © Mark Gary Early October, 2015 © Mark Gary Early October, 2016 © Mark Gary
Nothing left but a puddle.
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat  
Mid October, 2016 © Mark Gary
The rains have begun.
Early October, 2017
© Mark Gary
Mid October, 2017 © Mark Gary
Heavy equipment has been used to modify the earthen dam that maintains the pond. The outflow channel into the nearby creek has been moved to the other side of the pond and reinforced with rocks.
 
     
   
       
  November  
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
November 2011  © Mark Gary November 2013  © Mark Gary
November 2014 © Mark Gary Early November, 2015 © Mark Gary
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat    
Early November, 2016 © Mark Gary
After a lot of rainfall, news reports are declaring the drought over in Northern California. The pond seems to agree when compared to the lack of water in the three previous Novembers.
Early November, 2017, after the pond has been modified. © Mark Gary    
       
December
tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat tiger salamander habitat
December 2013 © Mark Gary Early December 2014 © Mark Gary Early December, 2015 © Mark Gary December 3rd, 2016 © Mark Gary
CA Tiger salamander eggs were laid this year between November 26th and December 3rd.

       

Home Site Map About Us Identification Lists Maps Photos More Lists CA Snakes CA Lizards CA Turtles CA Salamanders CA Frogs
Contact Us Usage Resources Rattlesnakes Sounds Videos FieldHerping Yard Herps Behavior Herp Fun CA Regulations
Beyond CA All Herps


Return to the Top

 © 2000 -