Salamander Safari

Bynlee Mott crouches down to flip over a rock in hopes that a salamander is hiding underneath it. Mott was joined by 14 other salamander searchers during Tuesday’s Salamander Safari at Oil Creek State Park.

OIL CREEK TOWNSHIP, Venango County— Did you know salamanders breathe through their skin? If not, then Tuesday’s Salamander Safari was the perfect event for you to attend.

The Safari was hosted by Ivy Kuberry. She is the Environmental Education Specialist through the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) for Oil Creek State Park. Kuberry started the safari off with a 30-minute informational session, before the group took to the stream. She gave the group information on different types of local salamanders.

Salamanders are amphibious, and go through a metamorphosis after their tadpole phase. Salamanders are also helpful in marking river pollution. Kuberry told the group that the larger the gills, the murkier and dirtier the river. If you find salamanders with smaller gills, it means that the water you found it in is clean and full of oxygen.

Armed with buckets and laminated identifying sheets, 15 hunters spread out across the steam to find some slimy critters. In the hour that the group spent in the “run,” three salamanders were caught, and many more were scared away. Of all the participants, it was Sam Mott who caught the most salamanders. Sam caught two of the three found, and located a salamander that still had its gills outside the body. Although not everyone was able to find a salamander, Kuberry made sure that all attendees were able to hold and try to identify a one.

Oil Creek State Park will continue to host more informational events this summer to help residents get outdoors. On Saturday Oil Creek State Park is hosting a Crayfish event called “Crayfshin’.” Kuberry is the also host of this event.

Dvorkin can be reached by email at

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