The Fire Salamander, common throughout southern and central Europe, is a type of toxic salamander. So what makes this creature so interesting? How does it behave in the wild? Read some fun facts to find out!
Interesting Facts about the Fire Salamander
- The Fire Salamander varies in color. While most generally have yellow spotting or stripes on black skin, some lack these yellow spots and are nearly entirely black.
- Yellow spots and stripes serve to warn predators of the inherent danger the salamander poses if preyed on.
- Its body can vary from 6 to 12 inches in length.
- Fire Salamanders, endemic to areas of Europe, are commonly found at higher altitudes, between 800 to 3,300 feet. They are often located in forests near ponds or streams at this altitude.
- The salamander's toxin, samandarin, is a steroidal alkaloid that is highly toxic to both humans and other animals. While not much is known about how exactly the poison achieves its effects, it attacks the central nervous system. Exposure, either through contact with the skin or ingestion, causes muscle spasms, high blood pressure, hyperventilation, increased production of mucus and saliva, restlessness, and later in the process, convulsions, shortness of breath, and paralysis. Death generally follows after paralysis begins affecting the lungs. Unfortunately, there is no known treatment or antidote.
- The salamander can spray this venom from glands behind its eyes.
- They are a nocturnal species.
- Fire Salamanders are known as "lungless salamanders"- they utilize their moist and permeable skin that absorbs oxygen in the surrounding air.
- The Fire Salamander's diet consists mainly of insects, including worms, slugs, and spiders. It can also include younger frogs and newts.
- Males and females of the species are difficult to separate visually, except during their breeding season when males of the species sport a swollen gland around their vent.