Fire Salamander

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Fire Salamander
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Fire salamander

Fire salamander
Scientific classification
Species:S. salamandra
Binomial name
Salamandra salamandra
(Linnaeus, 1758)

The Fire Salamander (Salamandra salamandra) is probably the most well-known salamander species in Europe. It is black with yellow spots or stripes to a varying degree - some specimens can be nearly completely black while on others the yellow is dominant. In some cases the spots are more orange or red than yellow. Fire Salamanders could reach a very long lifetime. In the german natural history museum Alexander Koenig a salamander lived more than 50 years.


Habitat and diet

Fire Salamanders live in forests in the hilly parts of southern and central Europe. They prefer deciduous forests, as they like to hide in the fallen leaves, but also at mossy tree trunks. They need clean small brooks in their habitat for the development of the larvae. Whether on land or in water, fire salamanders are inconspicuous. They spend much of the time hidden beneath stones, wood or other objects.

Fire Salamanders are active in the evening and the night, but on rainy days they are active in daytime as well. Their diet consists of various insects, spiders, earthworms and slugs. Small prey will be catched within the range of the vomerine teeth or by the posterior half of the tongue, which adheres the prey.


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Larva with external gills

Males and females look much alike except during the the breeding season, when the most conspicuous difference is a swollen gland around the male´s vent. This gland produces the spermatophore, which carries a sperm packet at its tip. The courtship happens on land. After the male becomes aware of a potential mate, he captures her and blocks her paths. The male now deposits his spermatophore on the ground. Reproduction occurs by means of this spermatophore, which will be taken up by the female salamander. The Eggs are retained in the oviducts of females by developing within several months. Under normal conditions the females give ovoviviparous birth to nearly full developed aquatic larvae with external gills and caudal fin borders. After several months, the larvae transform into adults and leave the water. During the transformation they lose their gills and develop lungs. Neotenic fire salamanders were watched at no time.


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Samandarin - Structure

Salamanders may defend themselves actively once they are grasped by a predator. Beside of various antipredator positures, S. salamandra adults are able to extrude heavy toxic skin secretions, e.g. the neurotoxic alkaloid Samandarin. This alkaloid causes strong muscle convulsions and high-blood pressure combined with hyperventilation in all vertebrates. The poison glands of the Fire salamander are concentrated in certain areas of the body, especially around the head and the dorsal skin surface. Most of these secretions might be effective against bacterial and fungal infections of the epidermis, but some secretions could also be dangerous to human life.


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Distribution in Europe

Fire Salamanders are found in most of southern and central Europe. They are most commonly found at altitudes between 400 and 1000 m, only rarely below (in Northern Germany sporadically down to 25 m). However on the Balkan or in Spain they are commonly found in higher altitudes as well.

Nominae Herpetofaunae Europaeae:

Salamandra salamandra (Linnaeus, 1758)

  • England - Fire salamander, Spotted salamander
  • France - Salamandre tachetée
  • Germany - Feuersalamander
  • Spain - Salamandra commún
  • Italy - Salamandra pezzata
  • Netherland - Vuurslamander
  • Norway - Ildsalamander
  • Subspecies

    Several subspecies of the Fire Salamander are recognized. Most notable are the subspecies fastuosa and bernadezi, which are the only viviparous subspecies - the others are ovoviviparous.

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    Fire salamander - orange coloured species, rare
    • S. s. almanzoris - Spotted Fire Salamander
    • S. s. bejarae (or hispanica)
    • S. s. bernardezi (extinct?)
    • S. s. beschkovi
    • S. s. crespoi
    • S. s. fastuosa (or bonalli) - Yellow Striped Fire Salamander
    • S. s. gallaica - Portuguese Fire Salamander
    • S. s. gigliolii
    • S. s. infraimmaculata
    • S. s. longirostris - Los Barrios Fire Salamander
    • S. s. morenica
    • S. s. salamandra (or werneri)
    • S. s. semenovi
    • S. s. terrestris - Barred Fire Salamander



    External links

    fr:Salamandra salamandra nl:Vuursalamander

    pl:Salamandra plamista


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