The Siberian Salamander
The Siberian Newt, Manchurian Salamander, Dybowski's Salamander
Der Sibirische Winkelzahnmolch (German)
La salamandra siberiana (Spanish)
Species: salamandrella keyserlingii
The Siberian salamander, as the name suggests, is mainly found in Siberia, up to the polar Urals in the north (almost to the coast of the Arctic Ocean) to the north of Japan, China, Korea and Mongolia in the south. In the west they can be found up to the Volga region and in the east to Kamchatka and the Kurile islands.
Adult salamanders reach the length of 8-9 cm (head to tail). The tail is slightly shorter or as long as the body.
Siberian salamanders are dark brown or gray-brown with small dark spots. They have smooth skin with 12-15 grooves on each side. They have a golden stripe along the body. The head is flattened. They have 4 or sometimes 3 toes on hind feet. Males have longer and larger tails than females and longer front legs. These differences are most visible during the mating season.
Siberian salamanders are calm and peaceful amphibians. It is a nocturnal species. Tadpoles are active both at daytime and at night.
In the beginning of the mating season salamanders are active at daytime, when the water is the warmest. Then the peak of activity shifts to dusk and then to night time. During the day salamanders hide under driftwood or in moss near the water. Sometimes they can bury themselves in ooze with only their nostrils outside. When they stay on the ground for a long time, their skin gets dry very quickly and becomes dark, almost black.
Siberian salamanders prefer small warm water bodies with small streams on the bottom. They are very cold resistant, and can endure the temperatures as low as -35-40 degrees.
They come to the water when the ice have melted and are active under the temperature above zero. They cannot stand the heat; if the water gets warmer than 27-28 degrees, tadpoles die. Adult salamanders stop eating at 25 degrees. They don’t like direct sunlight.
Adult salamanders eat various invertebrates. They hibernate from October to April under driftwood and logs or in burrows. Normally they hibernate in groups up to 100 specimens.
The captivity care for Siberian salamanders is quite complicated. The main problem is to maintain the necessary temperature. Under 23 degrees salamanders don’t feel well, and under 29 degrees they die. You can decrease temperature by misting the tank with cold water. During the hot season they will have to live in the fridge.
1-2 specimens need a tank of about 500 cubic cm. For substrate you can use a mixture of forest soil with turf and sand, covered with moss. A lot of shelters are necessary (logs, driftwood, flat stones).
You should feed salamanders in the evening, when the light has been switched off. They like bloodworms, sludge worms, spiders and woodlice.
Siberian salamanders, like all amphibians, are very sensitive to the environment and get ill mostly due to improper husbandry. If you buy a wild-caught newt, it will be particularly prone to diseases because of stress and bad conditions under shipment. Remember that all the new amphibians have to be isolated for at least 2 weeks, even if they look absolutely healthy.
Average life span is 8 years.
Reproduction starts in mid-April - May. In general, only 4-10% of the annual activity falls within the aquatic phase which tends to increase in duration northwards. The clutch is a pair of egg sacs connected to one another by a short mucous stalk. Each sac contains 14-166 eggs (usually 50-90 eggs). Hatching occurs after 15-40 days in the temperate zone and after 12-24 days in the Subarctic zone. Just after hatching, the larva is 8-10 mm in total length. The larvae eat benthic and phytophilous invertebrates, and only a small percentage of plankton.