4. Salamanders live in the Zoo’s backyard.
Part of what makes salamanders so cool is that they are as American as apple pie. The Appalachian ecosystem is home to more salamander species than any other region on the planet. Of the estimated 600 salamander species in the world, one-third are found in the United States—half of which live in Appalachia.
In Virginia, there are 54 species alone! One of the rarest species is the Shenandoah salamander, which is only found on three mountain peaks in Shenandoah National Park—located within an hour’s drive of the Zoo.
The biomass of all the red-backed salamanders alone would outweigh all of the deer in Appalachian forests. This abundance of salamanders means that they are helping to keep invertebrate populations in check. Their waste, too, helps contribute nutrients to the soil.