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Old 12-04-2012, 06:45 PM   #16
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Help! What the hell is this creature? Found many in backyard


My brother and I had them as pets growing up in Oregon. They are cute and not a problem.

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Old 12-04-2012, 07:42 PM   #17
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Help! What the hell is this creature? Found many in backyard


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My brother and I had them as pets growing up in Oregon. They are cute and not a problem.
How cute is that?

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Old 12-05-2012, 03:07 AM   #18
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Help! What the hell is this creature? Found many in backyard


I live in Sunnyvale. It used to be Cherry orchards around here. But since the tract homes were built in the area in the 1950s, those orchards are long gone. As I read, this thing is called Santa Cruz Black Salamander, distributing mainly in Santa Cruz County and West side of San Mateo county. Sunnyvale is a pretty dry place but somehow a few of them still manage to survive, maybe due to my springklers like someone pointed out.

Actually I was trying to find those two big ones this afternoon. I turned all the wood and rocks in my backyard but couldn't find them anywhere. Not that I like them but since I have read so much about their species, I now get a bit curious.


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When I moved to N California with parents, as a kid, we lived near a creek in the East Foothills of San Jose---the armpit of the Bay. It snowed orchard blossoms in the Spring. There were all kinds of things like you show in the picture but many became extinct as the orchards gave way to tacky track homes and the environment was dangerously compressed. Birds that used to eat snails and slugs went away and blue belly lizzard that ate bugs in wood piles too. We had giant king snakes that looked like rattlers that kept field mouse populations under control but they all went away. Nice to see you have some creatures and I assure you they will cause you no harm.

Our yard also had all kinds of fossilized remains of creatures in rocks and as you got closer to places like Alviso you saw more and more. Ancestors of that little salamander clan have been in the Bay Area longer than you.

Just where in the Bay Area are you? Salamanders still live in moist environment leak in the leaves of the redwoods off Highway 9 and of course the giant banana slug can be found there. It is the official mascot of the University of California-Santa Cruz. None of these creatures will cause you any harm although some are sensitive to the slime of the giant slugs. Of course European snails that snuck into the environment raise havoc with plants and I fully support squashing them with your bare feet.

I hope you can come to admire those that share your environment. As for what they are up to in your yard? They are amphibians and can live on land or in and out of water. I suspect your sprinkler system and so forth is providing them with the moisture they need.

Last edited by htabbas; 12-05-2012 at 03:16 AM.
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Old 12-05-2012, 07:23 AM   #19
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Help! What the hell is this creature? Found many in backyard


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Originally Posted by htabbas View Post
I live in Sunnyvale. It used to be Cherry orchards around here. But since the tract homes were built in the area in the 1950s, those orchards are long gone. As I read, this thing is called Santa Cruz Black Salamander, distributing mainly in Santa Cruz County and West side of San Mateo county. Sunnyvale is a pretty dry place but somehow a few of them still manage to survive, maybe due to my springklers like someone pointed out.
Sometimes just learning more about the creatures that share this planet with us increases understanding. Like it or not, and Sunnyvale is known to me, you have created an environment that amphibians can survive. I think this amazingly cool.

As have others, I promise these little black Santa Cruz salamanders will not hurt you. They are just predicting the end of the World as you know it. We all know California has to suffer a major fault split and part of it must fall into the Pacific Ocean. The sooner the better IMO.

If you really want to stress out these little creatures, there is a way. Find the one with a Jimmy Buffet cap and follow it back to where you will find them all carving surfboards or trimming sails for large sailboats.
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Old 12-05-2012, 07:53 AM   #20
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Help! What the hell is this creature? Found many in backyard


The only creatures we 'discourage' in our yard are Black Widow spiders (and termites).....EVERYTHING else is welcome.....well, expect for the ants.....but not much you can do about them.
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Old 12-05-2012, 10:01 AM   #21
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Help! What the hell is this creature? Found many in backyard


I too have a list of unwelcome creatures as well and black widow spiders and termites are high on the list. Unfortunately salamanders are generally no match to black widow spiders but termites are eaten by many reptiles and amphibians.

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