An ancient belief purports that salamanders were fire lovers. This interpretation of their behaviour was perhaps erroneously based on observations of the creature emerging from a fire, when really the salamander was more likely escaping for its life after a log in which it had taken cover had been dropped onto the flames.
Yellow-spotted salamanders are rarely seen by most naturalists because these animals spend most of the year beneath forest litter or under the ground, and rarely emerge in the daytime. In the early spring, however, soon after the snow melts, they migrate to ponds and ditches, particularly on rainy nights, and breed.
They are readily recognizable by their black colour and pattern of bright yellow or orange spots. They reach a length of 20 cm (8 in.).
These spotted salamanders range over much of North America, from Prince Edward Island to south-central Ontario, and south to Georgia and eastern Texas.