The Alpine Salamander
The black salamander
Der Alpensalamander (German)
La Salamandre noire (French)
La Salamandra Alpina (Spanish)
Species: salamandra atra
The Alpine salamander, as the name suggests, can be found in the central, eastern and Dinaric Alps, at the altitudes over 700 m above the sea level. They can be found in Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, France, Germany, Italy, Montenegro, Serbia and Switzerland. They prefer humid meadows and woodland where they hide in crevices and burrows.
There are three subspecies:
Salamandra atra atra – black salamanders found in central, eastern and Dinaric Alps
Salamandra atra aurorae – critically endangered species that lives in the Venetian prealps
Salamandra atra pasubiensis – lives in the Venetian prealps
Salamandra atra prenjensis – lives in the Dinaric Alps.
An adult Alpine salamander reaches the length of 15-17 cm.
The Alpine salamander is completely black, without any spots or patterns. The subspecies Salamandra atra aurorae though has golden or greenish spots and patterns. It is a slender and a very agile animal that has a high degree of adaptability to the environment.
The Alpine salamander is a completely terrestrial species.
They are smart and social animals that can recognize their owners.
They hibernate during the winter.
Salamanders thrive in cool temperature, so heating is not needed. The ideal ambient temperature is 18-20 degrees at daytime and 16-18 degrees at night. If it is hot outside, you might even have to cool down the tank so that your amphibian doesn’t die.
They don’t require a large tank; a enclosure sized 60x90 cm will be sufficient for 1-2 specimens. For substrate you can use potting soil mixed with turf and moss; salamanders love digging. Also you will have to put in their tank a large water bowl for your pet to drink and to cool off.
You should use fluorescent lamps that don’t raise the temperature. Occasionally you will need to use UV lamps.
The staple of the Alpine salamander are various insects: sludge worms, bloodworms, lean meat and shrimps. They also like specialized commercial food for turtles and amphibians.
You have to remember that salamanders’ skin emits a neurotoxin that causes itch, burning sensations and even swelling when it gets onto human skin. So you will have to wash your hands properly after handling your pet or cleaning its tank.
In the wild the toxin is even stronger, so the attempts to catch a wild salamander may end up with an urgent visit to the hospital.
This is a hardy species that is not prone to any particular illnesses. Alpine salamanders rarely get ill under proper care.
Average life span is 10-12 years.
Mating occurs on land, the male clasping the female at the fore legs, and the fertilization is internal. Alpine salamanders are ovoviviparous: this means that they give birth to live youngs (usually 2-4). They may measure as long as 5 cm at birth. The uterine eggs are large and numerous, but, as a rule, only one fully develops in each uterus, the embryo being nourished on the yolk of the other eggs, which more or less dissolve to form a large mass of nutrient matter.
Generally, at altitudes of 650-1,000 m above sea level, a pregnancy lasts two years, and at altitudes of 1,400-1,700 m, the pregnancy lasts around three years (1,140 days).