Creature Feature – The Blind Cave Salamander
The Blind Cave Salamander is a vulnerable amphibian because it only lives in a handful of Georgia and Florida caves. This salamander that is about 2.3-inches long has no eyes, skinny legs and a pinkish-white body. Its body contains almost no pigment, so it has an iridescent appearance.
Where Does the Blind Salamander Live?
The Blind Cave Salamander has only been found in Jackson, Washington, and Calhoun counties in Florida and two Georgia counties bordering the Sunshine State.
What is the Life Cycle of the Blind Cave Salamander?
Scientists know little about its life cycle. They have found pregnant females in May and November. Scientists know that these salamanders eat seed shrimp and amphipods that they find in the underground streams and pools where they live.
Where to See the Salamander?
It can be challenging to see this salamander because it lives underground in water. One of the best opportunities to see it is at Florida Caverns State Park. You may spot one during the walk-through cave tour.
What to Expect on Your Cave Tour?
After joining your tour, you will walk approximately 350 feet to the cave’s entrance, which is accessed by walking down 35 steps. After everyone has a chance to acclimate to the dim lighting and 65-degree temperature, your guide will lead you through about 12 cave rooms. You may need to stoop in a few places while walking about 15 feet forward because the cave’s ceiling is only about 4.5-feet tall in some areas.
While you are on your tour, watch for the salamander. While there is no guarantee that you will see it, you will love seeing the stalactites, stalagmites, columns and flowstones. Your guide will point out various places where you can see chisel marks from the 1930s when the CCC worked to expand the cave.
You will walk up a slope with about a 15-degree angle to exit the cave in most cases. If the Marianna area has had a lot of rain, you may need to climb back up the stairs to leave the cave.
Get Your Tickets Early
Cave tours leave from the park’s headquarters at 9 a.m. Thursday through Monday. Each tour is limited to under 20 guests, so getting your tickets in advance is a great idea.
What Else Can You Do at This State Park?
Hurricane Michael impacted much of the area at this state park, but park staff are working hard to get facilities back open. Typically, you can bike on a 1.5-mile trail running from the park’s headquarters to the pavilion. You can also launch small vessels on the Chipola River. This river is a fantastic place to fish for sunfish. A variety of wildlife, including beavers and alligators, can often be seen on a paddling adventure.
Can You Camp at This State Park?
This state park is a fantastic place to go camping in your RV. Full hookups are available. There is also a space for three equestrian campers, but these do not have sewer hookups. As of April 2021, all camping facilities are closed because of the damage done by Hurricane Michael.
Exploring this state park is an excellent opportunity to catch a glimpse of the rare Blind Cave Salamander. If you miss seeing it on the cave tour, this park is still a fantastic place to explore, where you can go boating, paddling, fishing and camping. Put it on your travel itinerary very soon.