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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Species Fact Profile: Fire Salamander (Salamandra salamandra)

Fire Salamander
Salamandra salamandra (Linnaeus, 1758)

Range: Central and Southern Europe, North Africa, Middle East
Habitat: Temperate Woodlands Near Water
Diet: Earthworms, Slugs, Insects
Social Grouping: Den Socially in Winter Refuges
Reproduction: Males deposit sperm packets for females to pick up.  Female retains the eggs inside her body until the young hatch.  In some subspecies, females retain the larvae until they are fully-formed.  In others, the female deposits larvae in a body of water
Lifespan: 50 Years (Maximum, Captivity)
Conservation Status: IUCN Least Concern

  • Length 15-30 centimeters long.  Females are slightly larger than males
  • Body is black with varying spots and splotches of yellow or orange; some individuals appear to be primarily yellow with some black spotting.  Underside tends to be more uniform in color
  • Bright coloration serves as a warning of toxicity.  Poison is secreted from the paratoid glands behind the eyes and rows of glands down the length of the body.  Poison can be actively sprayed at predators
  • During daylight hours, hunt visually, attracted to motion.  At night, they hunt by scent
  • Primarily active by night, but on rainy days will emerge during the day.  Spend much of their time under logs or in other shady, moist spots; inactive during periods of extreme temperatures, whether winter in Europe or summer in North Africa
  • There are several subspecies, some of which have recently been reclassified as separate species, including the African fire salamander (S. algira) and Coriscan fire salamander (S. corsica).
  • Primary threat is loss of habitat, pollutants in water ways.  Sometimes collected for the pet trade and for use in research.
  • "Salamander" comes from the Arabic for "lives in fire."  Salamanders were often seen crawling from logs tossed onto fires, leading to the belief that they were born in fire

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