Living on the EDGE.
Ever since I was a wee lad, I've loved creepy crawling creatures. Spiders, snakes, all kinds of bugs, but my favourites were always the amphibians. When on a picnic or camping, we'd scurry off into the forest or nearby river and start looking under rocks. I remember once catching a mudpuppy while fishing in the Etobicoke Creek (a local creek that ran behind our house-good for frogs, toads, & crawdads) but I haven't seen a salamander in the wild since I was about 10.
Here in Japan, the rice paddies and ponds are a haven for several species of frog and a main source of food for flocking cranes & herons. I've seen
うつがえる (utsu-gaeru = bullfrogs) as large as two fists and others such as the モリアオ-ガエル (mori-ao-gaeru or Forest Green Tree Frog as small as my thumbnail.
We have a species of
オオサンショウウオ (oo-sansho-uo =Giant Salamander) that lives in Osaka. I definitely need to check out this Hanzaki festival someday.
Another species is the
ブチサンショウウオ Buchi Salamander), blotched purple primitive amphibians found in the forested mountainous regions of Japan.
Good old BoingBoing has posted a link to EDGE, Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered, and environmental agency dedicated to preserving exotic & endangered species.
The 6th creature that they talk about is the aoxoltl which just happens to be the name that I've used as my email nom de plume for over 10 years. They are lungless salamanders of Mexico (highly endangered salamanders that do not have lungs but instead breathe through their skin and mouth lining.) If you check out this
video below, you can see them swimming around at about the 2 minute mark:
Help save our amphibious friends!