What Are Fire Salamanders

The beautiful fire salamander, with its black body that is covered with reddish-orange or yellow uneven spots, is an amazing sight to see.

The beautiful fire salamander, with its black body that is covered with reddish-orange or yellow uneven spots, is an amazing sight to see. From the Caudata order of amphibians this Urodele, which is better known as a tailed amphibian, has a body that is shaped like a lizards. Considered one of the Higher Urodeles from the Salamandroidea family this amazing creature can be distinguished by large glands near its eyes that contain an unpleasant irritant that is secreted to detour predators. The fire salamander, which is also often called the European salamander, prefers to make its home in warm, moist areas. They are often found in abundance at lower elevations of mountainous areas and in smaller numbers in the low land areas around moist, humid habitats. The fire salamander is a nocturnal animal preferring to hunt prey and mate at night. They have sections of teeth along the roof of their mouths and an oval shaped tongue. The skin of the fire salamander is relatively smooth but does not retain the slick feeling of other species of Urodeles. Found throughout some areas of Europe, North America, Asia and the northern part of Africa, fire salamanders are lunged creatures that go through a definite metamorphosis as they develop from larvae to adults.

One of the most interesting of the fire salamander behaviors can be found during the mating season. Although this creature uses sight and scent to find its mate the beginning of the mating ritual appears to be somewhat haphazard. Since fire salamander breeds on land at night and during the spring or fall months of the year, a kind of breeding ground is established within their habitat. As the males and females come together in type of mating frenzy, the male fire salamander chases after any salamander that moves until he has identified a female. He will then scurry beneath the female carrying her on his back as a kind of mating dance ensues. Once the female shows she is receptive the male drops a small sac filled with sperm on the ground and moves aside so the female can absorb it. When the eggs are fertilized the female will later seek out a water source, dipping the rear of her body into the water where around 60 eggs are release. It is apparent that the female fire salamander is not particular about where she releases her eggs since some have been observed in the stagnant water of standing puddles as well as in running water. It is also interesting to note that most female fire salamanders can take up to a year to release her eggs.

In most species the eggs hatch almost immediately upon touching the water. Most of the developmental stage takes place while the larvae are still inside the female, including the tiny gills that will sustain them in their watery environment. The tiny larvae feed with a voracious appetite on minute insects in the water for around three months. During this time they got through all the necessary physical changes that prepares them to leave the water and begin living on land. As adults the fire salamanders feed on insects such as crickets, some grasshoppers and earthworms.

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