Salamander (Fire) / Salamandra salamandra

Did you know...

The term salamander originates from an Arabic term meaning ‘lives in fire’.

It was believed that salamanders were born in fire.

This myth was probably based on the fact that salamanders hibernating in hollow logs crawled out when the logs were put on the fire.

A salamander appears on the Dudley town Coat of Arms. It is shown sitting above a ring of flames.

The Fire Salamander or European salamander is easily recognisable by its striking black and yellow markings which serve as a warning to potential predators of the toxic alkaloid called salamandrin which is secreted by the salamanders rubbery skin. This type of colouration is known as warning or aposematic colouration.

The salamander is a nocturnal animal of the European forest where it spends the day in the damp leaf litter or in holes and crevices in tree trunks or under stones. Literally they will hide anywhere as long as they can keep their skin moist. Salamanders usually emerge at night when it is cool and damp although after rain they will come out in the daylight to hunt food.

Like all salamanders, the fire salamander is a carnivore feeding on worms, slugs and insects. The will occasionally take tadpoles and small frogs and newts.

The salamander breeds in the spring and breeding usually takes place on dry land. The male seeks out a female and after a courtship where he rubs her chin with his head he deposits a spermatophore on the ground which the female absorbs to fertilise her eggs. She is ovoviviparous and so the eggs are retained in the body until the female gives birth to between 10 – 80 tadpole like larvae in clear clean water such as a natural spring or brook. The larvae unlike newt species are fully formed with legs but have gills and usually leave the water after about 3 – 4 months. They will be fully grown and mature in another five years.