Animals / Amphibians

The Fire Salamander

Синонимы и названия на других языках

Der Feuersalamander (German)

La salamandre tachetée (French)

La salamandra común (Spanish)

Классификация

Order: caudata

Family: salamandridae

Genus: salamandra

Species: salamandra salamandra 

Ареал

Fire salamanders are native to central Europe: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine. They prefer hilly areas and can be found up to 2000 m above the sea level. They avoid dry and open areas. Fire salamanders are common in deciduous forests on the banks of rivers and streams. They like soft mossy soil. 

Внешний вид

The fire salamander can grow to be 25-28 cm long. Males are slightly smaller and slimmer than females.

The body is glossy black, with irregular shaped bright yellow spots. The skin is thin, smooth and moist. The legs are short and powerful. There are four fingers on front legs and five toes on hind legs. The feet are not webbed. The snout is rounded. Fire salamanders have big eyes and yellow eyebrows. Behind the eyebrows are the paratoid glands. The teeth are sharp and rounded. Males have longer legs and bigger cloacal lips than females. 

Характер

It is a nocturnal species that doesn’t like heat and direct sunlight. They are resistant to low temperature and only brumate at 0 degrees. At daytime they hide in moss, burrows, under fallen trees or rocks. They can memorize the visual image of their area and can live in the same territory for many years.

The hibernation starts in October or early November. Fire salamanders hibernate in groups, under tree roots and leaves, among rocks or in small caves. The hibernation lasts until March or April, when the temperature rises to 8-10 degrees.

Males call in mating season (it sounds like quiet squeak or whistle). This helps them to find females.

Fire salamanders hunt all year round, if the climate allows it. They throw out their tongues, like frogs and toads. At night their sense of smell helps them hunting. 

Содержание и уход

Fire salamanders need a spacious horizontal or cubic tank about 30 cubic cm for 1 specimen. Usually they are kept in harems: one male and 2-3 females. In this case you will need a 100 cubic cm tank.

For substrate you can use a mixture of gardening soil with turf, bark and sphagnum or moss: salamanders like burying themselves in it. For decorations and shelters you can use live plants and big rocks.  Normally fluorescent lamps are used for lighting. Salamanders don’t like direct sunlight and cannot stand the heat: if the temperature gets over 25 degrees, they can get ill and even die. It is recommended to install a thermostat and set the temperature at 16-20 degrees at daytime and 15-16 degrees for the night. The air humidity has to be around 75-93%, so you will have to mist the plants and the substrate regularly.

At different stages of their lifecycle salamanders’ need for water varies. It is best to have in the tank a wide shallow bowl with water that will fit all the amphibians living in the tank. The water has to be changed every day or every second day. You can make an easy slope to the water with the help of small gravel.

During the shedding period salamanders mustn’t be bothered. They don’t eat during this time.

It is not recommended to handle your salamander a lot because of its skin toxin that causes irritation and burning sensations if it gets on human mucous. In its turn, salamanders’ sensitive skin can get burned after a contact with human’s hands, especially if they have some remains of cream or lotion.  

Кормление

Adult salamanders are fed every second day. Once a week you should dust food objects in calcium and vitamin powder. Be careful: they mustn’t be overfed.

For food you can use a sturdy bowl or even a flat stone where the amphibian can easily get. It will quickly learn to look for food there. Don’t feed your salamander from tweezers: it can injure the animal. The menu of fire salamander usually consists of live insects and invertebrates: beetles, earthworms, crickets, wood lice, slugs, mealworms, smooth caterpillars. It is important to choose soft food objects and remove jaws from beetles: they can injure your amphibian.  Sometimes you can feed it with small pieces of liver or ox heart: they are rich in vitamin A.

The temperature and air humidity influence the appetite of salamanders. The ideal temperature which makes them eat a lot is between 18 and 21 degree. If the temperature higher or lower, fire salamanders can stop eating for a while. In hot summers they can go without food for 1-2 months. During this time you will have to mist the tank constantly.

Fire salamanders can even eat dead pinky mice, but you will have to give it yourself, since they are attracted by the movement of the prey. 

Особенности
Болезни

Salamanders, like all amphibians, are very sensitive to their environment and mostly get ill due to improper husbandry. Sometimes people buy wild-caught salamanders that are particularly prone to illnesses due to stress and bad conditions during shipment, therefore it is best to get them from reputable breeders.  All the new amphibians have to be isolated for at least 2 weeks, even if they look perfectly healthy.

Average life span is about 10 years.

Разведение

The mating season starts after hibernation, in spring. Salamanders mate on land.

Fire salamanders are ovoviviparous. This means that the hatchlings develop inside their egg membranes inside the mother, and actually leave the egg at the moment of birth.

The mother should be provided with a shallow water dish containing about an inch of water. Fire salamanders are bad swimmers, and they must have an easy exit from the water. When she is ready to give birth, she will get into the water dish and the larvae will be released, one by one, over the course of a few hours. She may take a break and return at another time to continue. This can mean a steady production of larvae over a period of several days or in bouts over several weeks.

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