Fire Salamander

The Fire Salamander (Salamandra salamandra), is considered the most well-known salamander species in Europe. It is found in forests in the hilly regions of southern and central Europe. Their prefer deciduous forests, as they like to hide in the fallen leaves. They will also hide under stones and wood debris. They also visit mossy tree trunks. They require clean brooks for breeding. They are most commonly found at altitudes between 1300 and 3200 feet.

The Fire salamander grows to about 8 inches long. It is black with yellow spots or stripes. Some specimens can be nearly completely black while on others the yellow is dominant. Shades of red and orange may sometimes appear, either replacing or mixing with the yellow according to subspecies. Sexes are similar except during the breeding season (the male shows a swollen gland around the vent). The gland produces a spermatophore that carries the sperm packet at its lip. The courtship happens on land. After the male becomes aware of a potential mate, he confronts her and blocks her path. The male deposits his spermatophore on the ground. Reproduction occurs by means of this spermatophore, which will be taken up by the female.

Fire salamanders are mostly active in the evenings and at night, but will come out during the day when it is raining. They consume various insects, spiders, earthworms and slugs, but they also occasionally eat small vertebrates like newts and young frogs. Prey is caught within the range of its upper teeth or by the posterior half of its tongue, which adheres the prey. These specimens may defend themselves once grasped by a predator. They will also extrude heavy toxic skin secretions. Most of these secretions might be effective against bacterial and fungal infections of the epidermis, but some secretions could also be dangerous to human life.