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POLL: Cute or creepy? Rare salamanders hatched at the Detroit Zoo.

A baby dwarf siren salamander
Jennie Miller
The Detroit Zoo
One of the baby dwarf siren salamanders at the Detroit Zoo. Some of our reporters were wooed by the baby's cute stripes and tiny arms. Others think it's barely a step up from a worm.

Four "dwarf sirens" hatched at the Detroit Zoo’s National Amphibian Conservation Center in recent weeks. Dwarf sirens are a species of salamander that rarely reproduce in captivity.

In a statement, Dr. Ruth Marcec said, “These animals are very difficult to breed in captivity – it typically takes changing the ion content of the water to mimic dilution from rainfall. Now that we’ve established that this is possible, we are very excited to increase the dwarf siren population at the Detroit Zoo.”

This is a big step for the dwarf siren salamander (especially considering the amphibians only have two legs so big steps are difficult).

But for the Michigan Radio newsroom, there is a more pressing concern: are baby dwarf siren salamanders cute, or are they gross?

This question spawned a debate and many follow-up questions, including:

  • "Are their stubby arms adorable or weirdly out of proportion with their extremely long tails?"
  • "Does their slimy skin intrigue you or make you cringe?"
  • "What about their weird eyeballs?"

One reporter pointed out that the salamanders are cute because they are less creepy than snakes, but cuter than worms. Another countered with the point that the zoo did not provide a video of the babies, and therefore they must be even creepier when they move.
Keep in mind, the babies will grow to become adults:

An adult dwarf siren.
Credit USGS
An adult dwarf siren.

What do you think? Are dwarf siren salamanders cute or creepy? Submit your answers, and explanations, below:

Emma is a communications specialist with the digital team at Michigan Radio. She works across all departments at Michigan Radio, with a hand in everything from digital marketing and fundraising to graphic design and website maintenance. She also produces the station's daily newsletter, The Michigan Radio Beat.
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