If you've seen salamanders crossing the road lately, don't be surprised if they look a little unsteady.

They're tiger salamanders that are leaving wetlands to find winter homes underground, and some of them are taking their first-ever steps on land, said Robert Denton, a scientist at the University of Minnesota—Morris.

"Others are returning after a summer of lounging near the water," he said. "They do all of their traveling when the weather is cool and rainy, which prevents them from drying out."

Salamanders help humans in two ways, he said. They feed heavily on mosquitoes, and with their porous skin and the time they spend in both aquatic and terrestrial environments, they are great indicators for healthy, thriving habitats.

"I'd love for people to know that they are completely harmless, won't bite, and don't cause any damage to their property," he said. "If you find them in your window wells, sidewalks or driveways, they can easily be picked up and sat down on the ground in the direction they were heading."