Madison Area Herpetological Society

Salamanders in the Basement!


Salamanders in the Basement!
By Eric Roscoe

It is very common for salamanders and newts to be found in basements, window wells, or crawl spaces of human habitations during late autumn or early winter when temperatures drop and conditions become colder. Most salamanders will naturally over winter underground and below the frost line in self constructed or existing burrows up to two feet or more.

Many newts and salamanders are also quite cold tolerant, with some even having molecular properties in their cells to be able to withstand freezing temperatures without harmful effects. If a salamander is found within a home during this time of year, the best course of action is to simply release it outside during the day nearby in suitable forested or other moist, shaded habitat when temperatures are at their highest (even when there is snow on the ground). This should generally be done if a salamander is found when outside temperatures are between 30 degrees F and 50 degrees F. Only when outside temperatures fall below this range should they not be immediately re-released, and where assistance or intervention may be required. However, They do not need to be rescued or re-homed in most of these circumstances.