Amphibious Adventure

Copyright Michel Gallant 2005

As winter receded and spring arrived this year, we were surprised to awake the morning of April 2, 2005 to a flood in our basement, due to the combination of heavy April showers, frozen ground, and a frozen sump-pump line! This type of spring risk is well known to anyone who is familiar with life in rural Canada. On this particular occasion, my ears failed to alert me to the fact that the sump-pump had failed to turn off in the dreary rainy early morning hours.
Being somewhat experienced with country life, I was well aware of the importance of having a back-up sump-pump. In a frantic rush against time, sloshing about in two inches of water on the basement carpets, I pressed the spare sump-pump into service and drained the water into the basement shower. In spite of the aggravation and confusion, this soon became one of those disasters with a silver lining:

First of all, we are FINALLY replacing all of the basement carpets, the baseboard mouldings, and about two feet of drywall. Happily, all of these renovations are being covered by our insurance policy!
But best of all, as one of the reconstruction workers was ripping up the ruined carpets, he discovered a lovely native blue-spotted salamander, mistaken at first for a piece of tape, hiding (or possibly hibernating) in a corner, near the sump-pump area. We now have a new member of our household. Our daughter Olivia has christened it Bunchie (don't ask why!).
I quickly built a comfortable home for Bunchie and (s)he seems to be quite content to sneak away and snooze under the clumps of damp mossy earth. Occasionally, we catch Bunchie bravely venturing forth onto the rock, but she usually prefers to disguise herself in her surroundings.
Bunchie is quite docile, as I imagine most native salamanders are. When I hold her, she appears shy, and likes to curl up.
We are not sure exactly how old Bunchie is, but based on her size (about five inches long), Bunchie may be about ten years old! How did Bunchie find her way into our house? Is Bunchie a boy, or a girl? This is all part of our continuing adventure and education. However, there can be no doubt that Bunchie has turned our "Flood of Spring 2005" into a re-awakening with Nature.

The Great Escape

   It seemed that Bunchie was not quite as docile as she first appeared. I woke up to find that Bunchie had vanished, without a trace, from her quickly-fashioned terrarium. The cover to her living quarters was light and loose-fitting with some small gaps. Bunchie had shown no apparent interest in scaling her terrarium walls and trying to escape, while I was observing her. However, she must have skillfully executed her escape early in the morning hours.
Amazingly, a reconstruction worker rediscovered Bunchie, covered in drywall dust, in EXACTLY the same corner area of the basement, close to the sump-pump, where she was first discovered! Based on some characteristic bodily features, I'm sure this is the same "Bunchie". Bunchie evidently managed to migrate from her new abode, crawled down the carpeted stairs, and returned to her original damp haunt.

Did Bunchie return, guided by her native instinct? or was she lured by the characteristic scent of the basement sump area? At any rate, Bunchie is safely back in her man-made living quarters, with an improved anti-escape top.

<--- Bunchie modeling his handsome blue-spotted coat