Spotted salamander for a thousand, Alex

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If you didn’t immediately correlate that the spotted salamander is Ohio’s official amphibian, you’re probably not a true Buckeye. Or, like me, you weren’t aware there was any such thing as “amphibious representation” for each and every state. (How can anyone be the Oracle at the Counter of Knowledge if they don’t know things like that? Gah. Now I have to go Google a bunch of stuff. Dang.)

“We’re here to help the salamanders.”“We’re here to help the salamanders.”

The white-tailed deer is Ohio’s official wild animal. It’s also responsible for large swaths of gore on every paved road in the state. Suffice it to say that deer aren’t able to “connect the dots” very well. I mean, I doubt two of them have ever come to the edge of Ohio 68, viewed the bubbling remains of a smashed comrade ever quarter mile, and said to each other, “Ya know, we might not want to jump out there in front of those giant, zoom-y things.” (Note to self: White-tailed deer have big white tails and tiny brains. See also: politicians.)

So, like I mentioned, I wasn’t aware of the amphibian thing until I started following the Pennsylvania House of Representatives’ story on a friend’s Facebook page, and only because it had a picture of a space alien baby attached to it.

(That’s a filthy lie. It’s an Eastern Hellbender Salamander — see above — which may as well be a space-baby, because I would scream and run just as fast if I stepped on one in the river.)

Anyway, it seems the Pennsylvania House Republican Leader Dave Reed didn’t care for the fact that on Wednesday, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to make the Hellbender Pennsylvania’s State Amphibian/alien baby. Representative Reed circulated a memo, asking for support for forthcoming (further) legislation involving state salamanders, that asks to have the (admittedly less cool) Wehrles salamander be the official amphibian/alien baby representative for Pennsylvania.

The Wehrles salamanderThe Wehrles salamander

(I have it on good authority that the most popular response to his memo was, “No way man. ‘Eastern Hellbender’ is way more cool than something that sounds like a caramel candy. Also, have you seen these things? They get as big as a lap-dog.”)

You’ll have to decide for yourself which one of the last two statements is a filthy lie. I’ll give you a hint. It wasn’t the first one. They really are voting repeatedly on amphibian status.

Why does any of this matter?

Well, it probably doesn’t for anyone other than the selected salamander. Advocates for Hellbenders say recognition can help spread the word that giant alien babies/salamanders are kinda scarce, and might need to be a protected species. I say if you pull a two-pound, two-foot-long salamander out of the mud and don’t have the sense to know there probably aren’t and abundance of these things, your species should be the one that’s protected. From itself.

Rest easy, Pennsylvania. Your concerns as a constituency are 100 percent being met in the salamander department by the gubmint, because they’re here to help. Salamanders.

Truckers, not so much.